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To come and go : transnational life between Mexico and Alaska Komarnisky, Sara Victoria 2015

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 TO COME AND GO: TRANSNATIONAL LIFE BETWEEN MEXICO AND ALASKA by Sara Victoria Komarnisky  M.A., University of Manitoba, 2006  B.Com., University of Alberta, 2003    A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Anthropology)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)   April 2015  © Sara Victoria Komarnisky, 2015 ii  Abstract This dissertation examines the experiences of place and patterns of transnational mobility of three generations of people who have been living between Acuitzio del Canje, Michoacán, Mexico and Anchorage, Alaska, USA for several decades. These people hold dual US-Mexican citizenship or US permanent residency and are able to move across the continent in a way that many Mexican migrants cannot. Based on twelve months of ethnographic research in both Acuitzio and Anchorage, and ten years of engagement with people in these locations, I analyze the experience of Acuitzences (people from Acuitzio) at several levels: as they encounter frictions in their movements between Michoacán and Alaska; the practices of multigenerational family units who gain traction over time to build lives in both Anchorage and Acuitzio; the uneven and situated habits that generate a transnational class formation, and the ways in which Mexicans in Alaska re-conceptualize their senses of place by developing transnational identities out of the symbols and mechanisms of both nation-states. In showing how distance is key to the experience of Mexican migrant-immigrants in Alaska, this research also contributes to theorizations of the relevance of distance in the creation of spatialized differences. My analysis reveals that over time, Acuitzences in Alaska orient their lives to both locations as they live, work, and imagine their futures across the continent. Acuitzences in Alaska have created a transnational social field and orient themselves more to the field as a whole than to any one location in it. For most of them, Acuitzio, Anchorage, and the experience of mobility between the two places are necessary to feel at home in the world. These findings contribute to the anthropological research on mobility, citizenship, transnational migration, and the production of space, and bring the spatially bounded fields of Circumpolar Studies and Latin American Studies together. Based on this, I advocate for a transnational approach to theory and policy that embraces the multiple trajectories that construct places. Despite policy restrictions to migration, the lives of transnational Acuitzences who come and go show how the United States and Mexico are profoundly coproduced geographies.   iii  Preface This dissertation represents original and independent work by the author, Sara Komarnisky, who designed the research program, performed all aspects of the research program, and analyzed all data. The author is therefore solely responsible for any errors and/or omissions in this document.  Portions of Chapter 1, 3 and 4 appear in the following publication: Komarnisky, Sara V. (2012) Reconnecting Alaska: Mexican Movements and the Last Frontier. Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics 6(1): 107-122 The following copyrighted materials are reproduced here with permission: Road Between Tiripetio and Acuitzio, 1966 (© Raymond E. Wiest) Chichén Itzá-Chugach (© Bart Roberts) Chichén Itzá-North Slope (© Bart Roberts) Chichén Itzá-Zitácuaro (© Bart Roberts) Interior Michoacán, Mexico, was adapted with permission from © Raymond E. Wiest (1970) Wage-Labour Migration and Household Maintenance in a Mexican Town. PhD Thesis. Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon. Alaska, USA (© Paul Hackett) and Air and Road Routes between Mexico and Anchorage, AK (© Paul Hackett) were created using base data from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation Natural Resources Canada, Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, and the National Atlas of the United States. No use constraints are applied to data for Mexico and the United States of America. All data for Canada and other areas outside of Mexico and the United States of America are covered by the Geogratis License Agreement for Unrestricted Use of Digital Data; see http://geogratis.cgdi.gc.ca/geogratis/en/licence.jsp. This research was approved by the UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board under the title “I Can See Mexico From My House: Producing, Imagining, and Belonging in a Transnational Alaska,” Certificate Number H11-00985-A002 (Principal Investigator: Dr. Gastón Gordillo).   iv  Table of Contents  Abstract .......................................................................................................................................... ii!Preface ........................................................................................................................................... iii!Table of Contents ......................................................................................................................... iv!List of Tables ................................................................................................................................ vi!List of Figures .............................................................................................................................. vii!List of Abbreviations ................................................................................................................. viii!Acknowledgements ...................................................................................................................... ix!Dedication ..................................................................................................................................... xi!Chapter 1: Introduction – “Yes, There Are Mexicans in Alaska” ............................................1!Mexicans in Unexpected Places .................................................................................................. 3!Mexicans in Alaska ................................................................................................................... 12!Frictions, Paradoxes, and Power Geometries of Mobility ........................................................ 21!Organization of the Thesis ........................................................................................................ 24!Chapter 2: North American Fieldwork – Between Acuitzio and Anchorage .........................27!When Your Field Site Leaves You ........................................................................................... 27!Multi-sited Ethnography ........................................................................................................... 28!Acuitzio, Michoacán, México ................................................................................................... 31!Anchorage, Alaska, USA .......................................................................................................... 41!Tracing Mexican Alaska ........................................................................................................... 46!Routes Between ........................................................................................................................ 49!Looking for Similarities ............................................................................................................ 52!Methodological Practice in Transnational Space ...................................................................... 56!Conclusion ................................................................................................................................ 63!Chapter 3: The Annual Migration of the Traveling Swallows – Friction, Distance, and Transnational Mobility ................................................................................................................64!Frictions of Distance ................................................................................................................. 69!Air Crossroads of the World ..................................................................................................... 78!From Morelia to Mexico City to Los Angeles to Seattle ...................................................... 80!Crossing Borders ....................................................................................................................... 93!Lemons for Good Luck: Citizenship and Mobility ............................................................... 95!Highways of North America ................................................................................................... 103!Out of Place: Roads to Acuitzio .......................................................................................... 105!A Beautiful and Tragic Voyage: Traveling the Alaska Highway ....................................... 109!Conclusion: A Farewell Song ................................................................................................. 117!Chapter 4: “My Grandfather Worked Here” – Generation, Gender, and Travel Back and Forth ............................................................................................................................................120!The Bravo Family: Spatializing Kinship ................................................................................ 127!The First Generation ............................................................................................................... 132!Producing Alaska ................................................................................................................ 134!Aligning Lifecourse with the Landscape ............................................................................ 136!Repetitive Trips ................................................................................................................... 138!v  Producing Corridors for Future Generations ...................................................................... 140!The Second Generation ........................................................................................................... 144!Coming of Age in Alaska ................................................................................................... 146!Changing Political Economy of North America ................................................................. 150!“I Always Come and Go” ................................................................................................... 151!To Be Together ................................................................................................................... 154!Gendered Mobilities ............................................................................................................ 161!“First I Dreamed of Coming Here, Then I Dreamed of Going Back” ................................ 163!The Third Generation .............................................................................................................. 164!Sophia’s Quinceañera ......................................................................................................... 165!“The First Thing I Can Remember” .................................................................................... 169!Ambivalent Mobilities ........................................................................................................ 170!Conclusion .............................................................................................................................. 173!Chapter 5: “You Have To Get Used To It” – The Making of a Transnational Habitus .....176!Everyday Practices of “Getting Used to It” ............................................................................ 181!Situated Processes of Class Formation ................................................................................... 194!Seeking US Citizenship and Other Official Statuses .......................................................... 197!The Importance of Skills and Certifications ....................................................................... 202!Roosters and Other Objects That Travel ............................................................................. 207!What to Wear, Here and There ........................................................................................... 219!Homes and Property in Acuitzio and Anchorage ............................................................... 221!“My Heart is in Mexico but my Money is in the United States” ............................................ 225!Conclusion .............................................................................................................................. 231!Chapter 6: “It Freezes the People Together” – Producing a Mexican Alaska .....................233!Club de Migrantes de Acuitzio del Canje en Alaska .............................................................. 236!Performing Mexico: Xochiquetzal-Tiqun ............................................................................... 245!Postcards from “Mexico in Alaska” ....................................................................................... 263!The Mexican Consulate in Alaska .......................................................................................... 275!Conclusion .............................................................................................................................. 288!Chapter 7: Conclusion – Freedom to Move .............................................................................290!Mexicans in Unexpected Places: Contributions, Limitations, and Future Research .............. 293!Transnational Futures .............................................................................................................. 298!Taking a Transnational Frame ................................................................................................ 306!To Come and Go ..................................................................................................................... 311!References Cited .........................................................................................................................313!Appendices ..................................................................................................................................324!Appendix A Sophia’s Quinceañera ......................................................................................... 325!Appendix B Objects that Move ............................................................................................... 326!Appendix C Data Collection Tools ......................................................................................... 327!C.1! Life History Interview ............................................................................................... 327!C.2! Interviewee Questionnaire ......................................................................................... 328!C.3! Network Questionnaire ............................................................................................. 330!Appendix D Interviewee Characteristics ................................................................................ 331! vi  List of Tables Table 1: Padrinos and Chambelanes at Sophia's Quinceañera ................................................. 325!Table 2: Acuitzio-AK Interviewee Characteristics ..................................................................... 331! vii  List of Figures Figure 1: Interior Michoacán, Mexico. ......................................................................................... 33!Figure 2: Alaska, USA. Map by Paul Hackett. ............................................................................. 43!Figure 3: Air and Road Routes Between Mexico and Anchorage, AK. Map by Paul Hackett. ... 74!Figure 4: Air Crossroads of the World, Downtown Anchorage, 2012. Photo by Author. ........... 77!Figure 5: Canada-USA Border Along the Alaska Highway, 2011. Photo by Author. ................. 92!Figure 6: Road Between Tiripetio and Acuitzio, 1966 (© Raymond E. Wiest). ........................ 102!Figure 7: The Bravo Family, 2012. Figure by Author. ............................................................... 126!Figure 8: "Oscar" and His Rooster, 2012. Photo by Author. ...................................................... 209!Figure 9: Xochiquetzal-Tiqun at the Anchorage Museum, 2011. Photo by Author. .................. 247!Figure 10: Chichén Itzá-Chugach (© Bart Roberts). .................................................................. 269!Figure 11: Chichén Itzá-North Slope (© Bart Roberts). ............................................................. 270!Figure 12: Zitácuaro-Chugach (© Bart Roberts). ....................................................................... 271!  viii  List of Abbreviations AFN – Alaska Federation of Natives ANCSA – Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act APEC – Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ALC – Adult Learning Centre DEW Line – Distant Early Warning Line DREAM Act – Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act  FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigations GED - General Educational Development H1N1 – Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 ICE – Immigration and Customs Enforcement ID – identification IME – Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior INA – Immigration and Nationality Act IRCA – Immigration Reform and Control Act LA – Los Angeles LAX – Los Angeles International Airport NAFTA – North American Free Trade Agreement NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration PAN – Partido Acción Nacional PFD – Permanent Fund Dividend TSA – Transportation Security Administration UAA – University of Alaska, Anchorage US – United States USA – United States of America USCIS - US Citizenship and Immigration Services     ix  Acknowledgements Over the years I worked on this project, I moved multiple times, I lost a beloved baba and a beautiful dog, I adopted a new dog and gained a husband, I felt myself improving in Spanish again only to feel the words fade away after leaving the field, I fell out of touch with old friends, reconnected with others, and made entirely new friendships and professional or research relationships in Acuitzio, Anchorage, Vancouver, and Edmonton.  I was fortunate to receive funding to support my research from the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships program, the University of British Columbia, and the Liu Institute for Global Issues. For institutional support during fieldwork, I would like to extend my sincere thank you to the Colegio de Michoacán and Dra. Gail Mummert Fulmer for arranging an alumna visitante position for me during fieldwork in Mexico, and to the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Dr. Marie Lowe for a visiting student position at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.  Thank you to the staff at the Tuberculosis Program Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Alberta and especially to Dr. Richard Long and Courtney Heffernan. Working at TB PE & RU while writing my dissertation gave me the chance to apply a transborder frame to a new setting and topic: the multijurisdictional landscape of TB control in the Canadian prairies. I would also like to thank Paul Hackett from the University of Saskatchewan for generously creating the maps for this dissertation. I began the PhD program at UBC anthropology along with a brilliant cohort of scholars in 2009. Of that group, I am lucky to have learned with and from Denise Green, Chris Arnett, and Lara Rosenoff. Special thanks to Rachel Houmphan and Hiba Morcos for being two of the most intelligent and hilarious people I know. For critical feedback on early drafts of this dissertation, thank you to Ana Vivaldi, Natalie Baloy, Tamar Scoggin-McKee, and Molly Malone. For engaging with an earlier version of Chapter 4, thank you to the attendees of the Arctic Crossings workshop, held in June 2014 at the Liu Institute at UBC. Thank you to Zoe Todd for the many years of friendship and support. Ana Vivaldi was always there with excellent ideas and sound advice. Warm hugs to Oralia Gómez-Ramírez, my friend, colleague, and pen pal. I learned a lot about Alaska from Davin Holen, and am so glad we cross paths now and again. I am grateful to have met Sarah Hazell and Cameron Welch during fieldwork, and will forever be scheming to find a way for us all to live in the same city again. Thanks to good friends Teija Dedi and Ryan Gravito I always have a place to stay and lots of fun when I am in Vancouver. Lindsay Bell and Natalie Baloy: I look up to you, I’m inspired by you, and I’m honored to call you my friends and colleagues. Our conversations over the years have enriched my thinking on this topic and so many others. Marlee McGuire read and commented on early drafts and finished chapters over the past two years. She picked me up when I was down and she set me straight when I wavered. For your thoughts, your comments, your time, your friendship, and your faith in me: thank you Marlee.  As I struggled with writing, I read Shaylih Muehlmann’s book When I Wear My Alligator Boots (2014) which encouraged me to try to write like the ethnographies I love to read. Thank you to Felice Wyndham who contributed important ideas to the development of this project and to Kerry Feldman who has been a great source of support and advice in Anchorage over the years. I x  feel fortunate to have met Dayra Velázquez and Brooke Binkowski, both of whom have their own fascinating projects about mexicanos in Alaska. Thank you to Julie Cruikshank for her kind encouragement and interest in my work. I have so enjoyed our conversations and look forward to many more. To Raymond Wiest, who introduced me to Acuitzio, to anthropology, and to fieldwork: thank you.  Thank you to my thesis committee members, Alexia Bloch and Juanita Sundberg for their support and insight, especially on the final draft of this dissertation. Many thanks to Alejandra Bronfman, who chaired my defence, and to my examining committee: Pilar Riaño-Alcalá, Jon Beasley-Murray, and Lynn Stephen. I feel so fortunate to have had such brilliant and generous scholars to engage with. Thanks especially to Dr. Stephen for her detailed and insightful comments and suggestions on this dissertation.  I have learned so much from Gastón Gordillo, my PhD supervisor. As a student, I have benefitted immensely from his mentorship, and this dissertation illustrates that. Gastón read every word I wrote, provided thoughtful feedback and advice throughout my time at UBC, and was always encouraging and supportive. Thank you so much, Gastón.  To all of those who participated in this project, and who shared their thoughts, their words, and their time with me: thank you. I would like to specifically acknowledge and thank Maria Elena Ball and Bart Roberts for talking about the Mexico in Alaska postcards with me and allowing me to reproduce them here. I am indebted to Ana Gutiérrez-Scholl, Ana Del Real, and everyone in Xochiquetzal-Tiqun for sharing their time with me at practices and performances and for teaching me how to dance. Thank you to Martha, Adriana, Paulina, Luci, and Rosalía: en verdad nos divertimos mucho. Thank you to Mariano and Lupe Villaseñor, Mariano Villaseñor Jr., Andrea Villaseñor, Ady Villaseñor, Ricardo and Tere Villaseñor, Cirila Sánchez, Vicente Sánchez, Gardenia Sánchez, Maria Elena and Daniel Calderón, Rosa Altamirano Dorantes, Daniela Villa, Gonzalo and Eugenia Calderón, Taide and Esperanza Lopez, Edgar Lopez, Carlos and Brenda Arjon, and Ken and Imelda Cox. Muchísimas gracias, sin ustedes no lo podía hacer nada. Los extraño todos, de los dos lados.  Thank you to my extended family, especially Susan Tymchak, who always encouraged me to check out any book I wanted from the library, and Peggy Angiers, who I know I can always count on. I am so proud of my brothers and sisters for their own accomplishments: not bad for six kids from the country. Michael, Nathan, Kevin, Patrick, and Rachelle, thank you for being such remarkable people. My parents, Richard and Constance, deserve all the credit. Thank you. Finally, for all the love and laughter over the years and across the continent, thank you Chris.  xi  Dedication  Annie V. Komarnisky 1917-2010  1  Chapter 1: Introduction – “Yes, There Are Mexicans in Alaska”  On a visit to Anchorage in 2010 I took the bus downtown to see the Mexican Consulate, which had opened in 2008. A lot had changed since the last time I was in town almost five years earlier. The Anchorage Museum had a new glass façade and landscaping, and across C street was the Consulate itself, a yellow two story building with the words Consulado de Mexico spelled out in black, and a large Mexican flag waving in the wind. Walking on the museum grounds across from the consulate I stopped to take a photograph, and overheard the comments of a middle-aged white couple, walking past slowly, with cameras slung around their necks. Tourists. Indeed, summertime in downtown Anchorage means tourists, lots of them, arriving on buses from cruise ships, spending a few hours in the city before taking the bus or train for sightseeing elsewhere. Others might fly in and spend a couple of days in Anchorage before gearing up and leaving town for a backcountry adventure. I suspected these two were of the cruise ship variety.  “Honey,” the woman said, “Consulado de Mexico, now what do you suppose that is?” “Not sure, looks like some kind of Mexican government office,” the man said. “Well, what the heck is it doing here?”     On a cool, cloudy summer day in Anchorage, the Mexican dance and culture group Xochiquetzal-Tiqun had been asked to perform along the route for a 5km fun run. They thought there would at least be a stage! Or a sound system! There was neither, only an empty parking lot. I stood with the dancers as the adults deliberated about what to do. After a quick vote, the group decided to go ahead and dance anyway, “After all, we’re already in costume.” As the dancers got to their places, someone backed the Chevrolet Suburban up, opened all of the doors, and turned 2  up the speakers so that the dancers and runners could hear the music playing from the automobile’s CD player. Someone hit play and the youngest dancers with girls in colourful dresses and boys in black pants, white shirts, and a red sash danced to a jarabe in the Jalisco style. As they danced, parents and supporters of the group chatted on the sidelines. One woman joked about how the runners would be confused by the scene as they jogged past, “They’ll think that they’ve run all the way to Tijuana!” The group erupted with laughter as the adult dancers took to the parking lot – women dressed in white lace dresses, dancing to a song from Veracruz.    Almost every evening when I lived in Vancouver, I went to the dog park at the end of the block. While there, the dog owners inevitably struck up conversation with each other. One of them, the owner of a labradoodle tumbling around with my golden retriever asked me, “So what do you do?”  “I’m an anthropologist, I’m working on my PhD in anthropology at UBC.”   “Oh yeah, so what do you study?”  I replied, “I work with people from a small town in central Mexico who live and work in Anchorage, Alaska.”  “What? There are Mexicans in Alaska? What do they do there? How do they get there? Isn’t it too cold for them?”  I sat with Renata in her living room in Anchorage, my digital tape recorder running to capture her responses in an audio file. I asked her, “When you’re in Mexico and you say you live in Alaska, what do people say about that?” 3  She replied, “Their first expression usually is something like, ‘Oh my gosh, don’t you, like, freeze up there?’ Because they think it’s always snowing. I’m like, ‘No, it doesn’t just always snow. It’s actually snowing less and less as the years go by.” She paused and glanced out the window, “I’m really surprised that it hasn’t snowed yet this year.”  “I know!” I exclaimed, “I thought it would have snowed by now for sure.” Renata continued, “Yeah. But anyway, that’s their first impression. ‘It’s so cold over there in Alaska’, ‘Do you live in igloos?’ stuff like that, you know? People from the pueblo know that there are a lot of people living in Anchorage who are from Acuitzio but once I went to Mexico City I realized that people there were surprised. Like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s Mexicans up there in Alaska? Like, there’s Latinos?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, there’s not just Mexicans there’s like Colombian people, people from Venezuela, there’s so many of us in Alaska.’”  Mexicans in Unexpected Places Since I began working with people who move between Michoacán and Alaska, the most common questions I am asked about my work are as follows, “There are Mexicans in Alaska?” “How do they get there?” and “What do they do there?” Each of the vignettes above hint at a sense of anomaly and dissonance when “Mexico” and “Alaska” are brought together. Alaska is thought of as a separate, isolated, wild place where people of Mexican background are not supposed to belong. Racial and spatial perceptions that have become mainstream within the United States about Mexican migrant-immigrants place them closer to the US-Mexico border. The joke among Mexican dancers in Anchorage that the runners in a race will think they’ve run “all the way to Tijuana” evokes how there is something unexpected about this materialization of a Mexican dance performance in Alaska. Similarly, the Mexican Consulate building in 4  downtown Anchorage is perceived by American tourists who arrived on a cruise ship as something anomalous or out of place. Finally, in my own everyday life in Canada the most common reaction to my work is similar to that of the man at the dog park: surprise. Elsewhere in Mexico, people have also been surprised to hear of their paisanos living so far north.  The fact that these questions are asked at all illustrates how effectively Alaska and Mexico have been produced as separate in the popular imagination. Not just separate, but distant and fundamentally different from one another, far away both geographically and socially. As much as Mexico and Alaska have been produced as separate, Mexican migrant-immigrants are perceived as spatially located closer to the physical border with Mexico, and “out of place” so far north. Alaska and Mexico are produced as spatially and racially distant spaces, located at either end of the North American continent. Conventional wilderness narratives, and “sourdough”1 adventure tales about Alaska do not leave much room for diversity in what it means to be Alaskan, aside from the White Settler European – Alaska Native dichotomy (Thompson 2008). Spatial terminology that marks distance is also widely used within the state of Alaska to demarcate it from other locations. Many people refer to the rest of the United States as “the Lower 48,” for example, emphasizing Alaska’s location as both north of and separate from the contiguous 48 states. People also refer to locations “Outside.” 2 Capitalized, the term indicates “everywhere else.” This spatially demarcates Alaska as separate from everywhere else Outside of its territorial boundaries. A similar linguistic spatial demarcation divides Mexico from the United States: “el otro lado” or “the other side” (of the border) is used in Mexico to refer to the                                                 1"In Alaska, a sourdough is an old-timer, someone with many years of experience in the North. The term apparently dates back to the Klondike Gold Rush where experienced miners carried sourdough starter with them. A newcomer to Alaska is colloquially called a cheechako, a Chinook Jargon term that also dates to the Klondike."2 This is a term commonly used by Alaskans to refer to any location outside the state boundaries.  5  United States in general. And so, Mexicans in Alaska are interpreted as unexpected, odd, as people out of place.  In this dissertation, I analyze the multiple ways in which people of Mexican background living in Alaska navigate but also undermine this sense of spatial disconnect. I trace the spatial practices of three generations of migrants who have been moving between Acuitzio, Michoacán, and Anchorage, Alaska since the 1950s. Over time, these people have created a sense of orientation within a transnational social field. Both locations, and the common experience of mobility between them, are essential for feeling “at home.”  Phillip Deloria wrote about expectation and anomaly in his book, Indians in Unexpected Places (2004).3 In it, he described the broad cultural expectations in the United States relating to Native Americans and how events that do not fit within the norm are considered anomalous. Even as anomaly defines the event as unnatural and odd, the naming of an anomaly re-creates and re-empowers the same categories it escapes (Deloria 2004). Mary Douglas’s classic work shows that when people or objects cross categories, they are considered “matter out of place” and even dangerous or polluting (Douglas 1966). In Douglas’s work as well, these anomalies reinforce the categories they cross. There are spatial expectations as well. Gupta and Ferguson (1992) argue that representations of space in dominant discourses and also in the social sciences are dependent on images of break, rupture, and disjunction so that each society, nation, or culture is presented as occupying its own discontinuous space (Gupta and Ferguson 1992:6). Nation-states are also formed based on the idea of territorial separation and boundedness (Anderson 1991; Gupta and Ferguson 1992) and a sedentarist metaphysics where “people are often thought                                                 3 I thank Natalie Baloy (2014), Lindsay Bell, and the Arctic Crossings Network for Scholars of the Circumpolar North for drawing my attention to Deloria and the utility of “unexpectedness” for my analysis.  6  of, and think of themselves, as being rooted in place and as deriving their identity from that rootedness” (Malkki 1992:56). Indeed, in this framework, a migrant or a refugee would be considered “uprooted” and anomalous, signaling a loss of moral and emotional bearings and threatening to spoil cultural and national identities (Malkki 1992:65).  Henri Lefebvre would call the official and normative expectations that structure how we understand places like Alaska, Mexico, and North America “representations of space” which exist in dialectical tension with spatial practices and what he calls “representational spaces,” which include lived, subaltern spatial symbols and meanings (Lefebvre 1991). One particularly powerful representation of space in the United States is the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). When the INA was created in 1952, it brought together a variety of statutes that governed immigration law. The act has been amended many times since then, but it makes up the basic body of immigration law in the United States (US Immigration and Nationality Act 2013). As a legal document, the INA is profoundly about spatial relationships. Words like “in” or “out”, “entry” or “deportation”, and so on evoke movement between places outside of the United States of America into the nation-state itself. And it is abundantly clear that the law also allows the state to control, regulate, and limit that movement by legally defining who may cross the border into the United States and who may not. In this formulation, borders are presented as unproblematic delineations that separate nation-states and cultures. This is a representation of national space that is dependent on images of break, rupture, and disjunction where the distinctiveness of societies, nations, and cultures based upon the idea that they occupy their own “naturally” discontinuous spaces. As argued by Gupta and Ferguson, discontinuity forms the starting point from which contact, conflict, and contradiction between cultures and societies has been traditionally theorized (Gupta and Ferguson 1992:7). A legal representation of the world as a 7  collection of discrete nation-states fragments space into diverse national societies, each rooted in its own proper place. “Space itself becomes a kind of neutral grid on which cultural difference, historical memory, and societal organization are inscribed. It is in this way that space functions as a central organizing principle in the social sciences at the same time that it disappears from analytical purview” (Gupta and Ferguson 1992:7). This idea of space also functions as a central organizing principle in US immigration law.  It is important to note hat this vision of space is produced by the state, and by the many politicians who have written, debated, voted on, passed, and later amended this body of laws. Discourse on space, like the INA, can “supply clues to, and testimony about, this productive process” (Lefebvre 1991:37). As a representation of space, the INA is “tied to the relations of production and to the ‘order’ which those relations impose, and hence to knowledge, to signs, to codes, and to ‘frontal’ relations” (Lefebvre 1991:33). The INA could also be seen as what De Certeau (1984:122) calls “spatial legislation” that determines rights and divides up lands by “acts” or discourses about actions. In so doing, a spatial legislation story like the INA “has distributive power and performative force” (De Certeau 1984:122).  This act operates as much more than a representation of space since the INA allows the state to create and enforce its spatial vision of the United States. Through mechanisms of surveillance, many of which are outlined in Title II of the INA, state discipline, in the words of Michel Foucault, “fixes; it arrests and regulates movements; it clears up confusion; it dissipates compact groupings of individuals wandering about the country in unpredictable ways; it establishes calculated distributions” (Foucault 1995:219). This idea that state discipline seeks to “fix” bodies in space is also taken up by Deleuze and Guattari (1987) who argue that one of the 8  fundamental tasks of the state is to striate the space that it reigns over.4  “It is a vital concern of every State not only to vanquish nomadism but to control migrations and, more generally, to establish a zone of rights over an entire exterior, over all of the flows traversing the ecumenon” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:385). The state tries to capture all flows, restricting movement to clearly defined, carefully measured, and heavily regulated paths (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:386, see also Virilio 2006). It would follow then, that stories and practices about places that are excluded, that do not fit with expectations, that interrupt (Simpson 2014) could be perceived as anomalous, such as the practice of Mexican dancers in an Anchorage parking lot, for instance. Michel-Rolph Trouillot describes how anomaly arises out of a process whereby dominant narratives of globalization silence the past on a massive scale, systematically erasing the long-distance encounters that have marked human history across time and space: “For sushi in Chicago to amaze us, we need to silence the fact that the Franciscans were in Japan as early as the fifteenth century. For Muslim veils in France to seem out of place, we need to forget that Charles Martel stopped Abd-al-Raman only 300 miles south of Paris two reigns before Charlemagne. To talk of a global culture today as a new phenomenon, we need to forget that Chinese chili paste comes from Mexico, French fries from Peru, and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee from Yemen” (Trouillot 2003:34).  This is why many authors have emphasized the contingent, entangled, interconnected, and co-produced nature of places, undermining their apparent stability, boundedness, and timelessness (Gordillo 2004; Gupta and Ferguson 1992; Massey 2005; Rockefeller 2010; Tsing 2005). Deloria advocates “unexpectedness” as a framework to rethink those moments when places get entangled in ways that may strike some people as “anomalous.” The unexpected thus                                                 4 Deleuze and Guattari speak of sedentary space as striated ”by walls, enclosures, and roads between enclosures” (1987:384). I think that much like the Great Wall of China, the US-Mexico border fence is a particularly spectacular example of the striation of space."9  resists categorization and questions expectation itself. Along similar lines, Malkki writes there is no such thing as “matter out of place,” and shows how Hutu refugees and migrants created their own categories (Malkki 1995). Indeed, in general, “people categorize back” (Malkki 1995:8).  My anthropological attention to geographies connected through transnational and intergenerational patterns of mobility examines the production of distance at both ends of the North American continent. Distance is a relationship between space and time measured through movement, and is always experienced as relative so that locations are distant from one another, never simply “distant” in the abstract. By the production of distance, I mean the set of institutions, practices, and representations that make one location distant from another. For this reason, distance is always social and spatial. Liisa Malkki wrote about the production of distance between a refugee camp and town in Tanzania. These locations were spatially distant but “this spatial distance was exaggerated in the mutual perceptions between camp and town because such a great social distance had come to be inserted between them. The appearance of distance, then, was another expression of the social construction of difference between camp and town” (Malkki 1995:198).  Distance then, is a spatial expression of social perceptions of difference. In an era of globalization and “time-space compression” (Harvey 1989), due to technological innovations in transport and communication, locations are experienced as closer together. But places like Alaska are perceived as distant from anywhere else, and much of my analysis will focus on how people navigate these perceptions of distance.  Transnational migration is, in part, a spatial practice that navigates this distance by producing an interconnected space, a transnational social space. Many scholars have written about transnational migration patterns that connect places elsewhere in Mexico and the United 10  States (e.g. Cohen 2004; De Genova 2005; Kearney 2004; Rouse 2002; Smith 1998; Stephen 2007; Striffler 2007). Many other authors have examined transnational patterns of connectivity created by migrants elsewhere in the world (Bloch 2011; Chu 2010; Constable 2003; Miles 2010; Ong 1999; Olwig 2007; Parreñas 2005; Schiller et al. 1995). In the case of Mexican migrants in the United States, this interconnected space has been referred to with different terms: “the transnational migrant circuit” (Rouse 2002), a “transnational community” (Striffler 2007), the “articulatory migrant network” (Kearney 2004), a “transnational conjectural space” (De Genova 2005), or as involving “transborder lives” (Stephen 2007). Such spaces are seen as producing dual identities, “cultural bifocalities” (Rouse 2002), “peripheral vision” (Zavella 2011) or a sense of belonging “neither here nor there” (Striffler 2007; Zavella 2011). Other scholars refer to “the Mexican diaspora” (Gutiérrez 1999; Rinderle 2005), which also evokes interconnected space through displacement, hybridity and travel. However, diasporic locales are places that are not necessarily defined by a specific geopolitical boundary (Clifford 1994:304). In either formulation, the everyday spatial practices and lived experiences of Mexican migrants produce hybrid spaces which are in productive tension with the dominant representative spaces of the nation-state that the US Immigration and Nationality Act produces. In Alaska, this hybrid space is also in tension with the idea that this is a spatially separate state and a frontier wilderness. Transnational culture flows and mass movements of populations mean that “familiar lines between ‘here’ and ‘there’, centre and periphery, colony and metropole become blurred” (Gupta and Ferguson 1992:10). In this dissertation, I show how Acuitzences form “multiplicities of attachments” (Malkki 1992:72) in both Anchorage and Acuitzio, producing unexpected identities that challenge and test the territorial boundedness of the nation-state (Appadurai 1996b). Regular movements 11  between Alaska and Michoacán raise questions about the way in which multiple spatial points of reference across international borders affect people’s sense of belonging. For people who have been moving back and forth between Mexico and Alaska for several decades, the old anthropological assumption that there was a neat correlation between a “culture” and a “place” becomes more problematic than ever. Instead of looking for roots, the everyday lives of people who live in Mexico and Alaska show how places are continually produced through connection with other geographies. Alaska, Mexico, and North America are all products of interrelations. Throughout this dissertation I intend to shift the discussion from anomaly to unexpectedness by focusing on the crossings between Mexico and Alaska, specifically those crossings between Acuitzio and Anchorage made by multigenerational families who re-categorize the very meaning of “North America.” For this reason, I follow De Genova and use the term “migrant” or “migrant-immigrant” instead of immigrant to retain a sense of movement, incompletion, and irresolution of social processes of migration (De Genova 2005:3; Kearney 2004; Zavella 2011).  US-Mexican transnational space, then, is gradually built up by the everyday practices and transactions of people and things (Ferry 2013). In order to counteract the sense of anomaly in my analysis, I ground the discussion in everyday life, spatial practices that are ordinary for the people who live them. Building on work of philosophers and anthropologists who have theorized about space and place, I analyze how these people, together with other actors and institutions, produce the places they inhabit (Kearney 2004; Lefebvre 1991). This means treating space as social, for all spaces “embody and imply social relations” (Lefebvre 1991:83). I specifically draw on Lefebvre to conceptualize how places are created through action but constrained and influenced by projects of those who wield power at a larger scale (Lefebvre 1991:269). “Agents of power bring forth structures…which act as representations…of people’s spatial practice; these 12  representations are in turn realized in the lived space that results as people incorporate (or do not) these new constraints into their spatial practice” (Lefebvre 1991:269). Space is thus produced through the tension between mobility and interconnection and forces that control and constrain that mobility. This dissertation therefore draws on authors who have drawn attention to the productive tension between movement and the control of this movement by the state (for example, Cresswell 2006; Deleuze and Guattari 1987; Kearney 2004; Lefebvre 1991; Massey 1994, 2005; Rockefeller 2010). Mexico and the United States are profoundly entangled places, “unstable processes made and unmade through practice and through the connections these places maintain with each other” (Gordillo 2004:253). These spatial interactions are defined by what Anna Tsing (2005:4) calls friction: “the awkward, unequal, unstable, and creative qualities of interconnection across difference.”   Mexicans in Alaska Mexican migration to the United States has been ongoing at least since the Treaty of Guadalupe ended the Mexican-American war in 1848 and created the spatial boundary of these two nation-states in its current form. Since that time, the United States has been dependent on Mexican labour first to build railroads, later to supplement the workforce during a World War, and now to provide low-cost labour for agricultural work and service industry positions. The United States endures as a primary destination for Mexican labour migrants, as generations of mexicanos continue to seek a better life in el norte even as xenophobic opinion and policy in the US make immigration reform an ongoing issue. Labour migration between Mexico and the United States has been the topic of much anthropological research (Alvarez 1995; Boehm 2012; 13  Cohen 2004; De Genova 2005; Gomberg-Muñoz 2011; Heyman 1991; Hirsch 2003; Kearney 2004; Lattanzi-Shutika 2011; Rouse 2002; Stephen 2007, for example). The connection between Mexico and Alaska is often framed as “new” (García and Velázquez 2013; Binkowski 2014). But the connections between Alaska and Acuitzio are long running, and the connection with Mexico more generally has even deeper historical roots. Spanish explorers departing from Mexico in the 18th Century explored the Pacific Northwest and what is today Alaska, leaving their names behind on Valdez and Cordova and Revillagigedo Island, Alaska (Langdon 1997; Olson 2002). Labour migration between Mexico and Alaska has been ongoing since at least 1901, and probably earlier.5 While in Anchorage, I visited the federal archives to look for traces of mexicanos in Alaska in federal court records, including Declarations of Intent and Petitions for Citizenship that were submitted and reviewed within the Territory, and later the State of Alaska. I spent many days there leafing through the pages of heavy, hardbound volumes of naturalization records from district courts across the territory of Alaska.6 One of the earliest was a Declaration of Intention to apply for US citizenship for a Mexican citizen living in Ketchikan in the 1910s. From the information on the form, this person was born in 1890 in Santa Rosalia, Mexico7. He walked across the border to El Paso, Texas in 1906, at 16 years of age, and by 1917 was residing in the then-territory of Alaska. He served in the US Army, and was honorably discharged in 1918; for this, the $4.00 fee to apply for US                                                 5 The earliest Declarations of Intention or Petitions for Citizenship made by a Mexican national that I found at the National Archives was dated 1901. 6 This section draws on archival documents from the following sources: Federal Court Records in the holdings of National Archives and Records Administration, Anchorage (Record Group 21), Naturalization Case Files, Alaska State Archives, Juneau, Alaska, and Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company's employee record index 1914 to 1944 Alaska State Library Historical Collections, Juneau, Alaska. A potential direction for future research is documentation and analysis of the Mexican experience in Alaska before statehood. 7 I am not sure which Santa Rosalia – there are many."14  citizenship was waived. By 1919, when he filed his Declaration of Intent and Petition for Citizenship, he was living in Ketchikan and working as a labourer, with a tattoo of clasped hands and a cross on his left arm. The declaration of intention says: “I am not an anarchist; I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy and it is my intention in good faith to become a citizen of the United States of America and to permanently reside therein. So help me god, Signed Simón Vega. Jan 18, 1919.” In court records, I read about cases that involved Mexican nationals in Southeast Alaska back to the 1910s, men who worked in canneries or as miners. Indeed, it is likely that Mexican stampeders and muleteers who went to California looking for gold followed the rushes north, to British Colombia, the Klondike, and later to Nome reached Alaska in the late 1800s. Many early 20th century mining company employment records from Southeast Alaska list the birth country of their foreign born employees. One of these is from 1916, for John M. Baltazar, who worked in a Juneau mine as a mucker.8 Before that, he worked for a cannery on Excursion Inlet, “pitching fish”. He writes that he does not live with family, and that he sends remittances to his mother, who lived in Purepero, Michoacán. Mexicans were also recruited to work in fish canneries in Alaska. The earliest documentation shows that people from Mexico began working in Alaska canneries in 1905, and continued to work there during labour shortages related to World War I, comprising a major part of cannery crews up to the late 1920s (Norris 1984). During World War II, the military presence grew in Alaska and citizenship records show that many Mexican nationals applied for citizenship while stationed there. My ethnography begins after the war, when Acuitzences first began traveling to Alaska in the early 1950s,                                                 8 In mining, a mucker is someone who shovels broken ore or waste rock into tramcars or buckets. 15  seeking higher wages than they had been earning in California. These young men were likely seeking adventure, too. But the links to Mexico are historically deeper (Langdon 1997; Olson 2002).  The Consulate of Mexico in Anchorage hosted an exhibit called “First Mexican and Spanish Explorers of Alaska” from September 15 to October 15, 2012, to celebrate both Mexican Independence Day and US Hispanic Heritage Month.9 The exhibit represented “the historic relationships between Alaska and Hispanic cultures, beginning with Spain’s exploration and emphasizing Alaska’s connection with Mexico through rarely-seen maps and illustrations depicting six voyages that took place from San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico in the late eighteenth century.” These maps were displayed alongside “vibrant and colourful Hispanic traditions in textiles,” including a dress from Nayarit. The press release notes “the original content of this exhibition is based on a publication about Spanish voyages to Alaska by the anthropologist M. Wallace Olson” (Olson 2002). What is interesting is how these voyages are re-framed from Spanish voyages of exploration, to Mexican ones. After all, the point of departure for the Spaniards is now the Republic of Mexico. Consul Abud gave a presentation at the University of Alaska, Anchorage entitled “Historical and Social Links between Mexico and Alaska” where he introduced the Spanish voyages of exploration and then moved directly to speaking about present-day Hispanics in the United States, and then the Mexican population in Alaska, ending with a review of Mexican cultural activities and events in Anchorage (Abud 2012). I write more about the Spanish speaking population in Anchorage in Chapter 2 and about the Consulado de Mexico en Anchorage in Chapter 6, but here it is interesting to note how a historical connection                                                 9 The exhibit was held at the Wells Fargo Alaska Heritage Museum, located in the entrance to the Wells Fargo building in midtown Anchorage.""16  between Mexico and Alaska is produced, and a line of continuity is made between 18th century Spanish explorers and today’s Spanish speaking population in Alaska. Especially in Southeast Alaska, Filipino, Mexican, and other immigrants intermarried with the local Tlingit residents (Bucholdt 1996). Indeed, interrogating the history of the connection between Mexico and Alaska questions the line between newcomer and native, and sometimes between Indigenous and Immigrant.  There are interesting spatial implications to how the history of labour migration from Mexico to the US is told by researchers. Some authors have argued that the “traditional sending regions” of migrants diversify over time (e.g. Cornelius 1992). Others argue this is not the case, that most migrants continue to be from the historic “heartland” for migration from Mexico: the states of Aguascalientes, Colima, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, San Luis Potosí, and Zacatecas (Durand, Massey, and Zenteno 2001). Researchers also show that migrants are being “pushed” out of traditional receiving areas such as California and the US Southwest, primarily, and “pulled” into other areas such as Arkansas and the south or small town Pennsylvania (Striffler 2007; Lattanzi-Shutika 2011). This creates a relatively coherent temporal and spatial trajectory of migration from Mexico to the US where migration historically is between the traditional sending region in West Central Mexico and traditional receiving areas in the United States. For example, Massey, Rugh, and Pren (2010) writes that “historically, the vast majority of Mexican immigrants went to just five states: the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, and the industrial hub of Illinois. From 1910 to 1960, 90 percent of all Mexican immigrants lived in one of these states.” Over time, the geography of Mexican migration concentrated in California, so that “by 1980, 57 percent of all Mexican immigrants lived in California alone, with 23 percent in Texas and 8 percent in Illinois, so that 88 percent of 17  all Mexican immigrants lived in just three states” (Massey, Rugh, and Pren 2010). The authors attributed the expansion of Mexican migrant-immigrants to other “new” destination points in the United States to increased frictions at the border and in border regions (Massey, Rugh, and Pren 2010). The increasing militarization of the border and the construction of actual walls and fences diverted flows away from traditional destinations in California toward new locations elsewhere in the United States (Massey, Rugh, and Pren 2010). Striffler writes that migrants are increasingly settling in the US heartland, where economic conditions in small towns make settlement financially possible and also require longer stays. People follow family and community members to new locations so that “once a few pioneers determine the viability and desirability of a new location in the United States, the circuit can shift quickly from California to, say, Arkansas” (Striffler 2007:675). This is more than a shift in location, however. Striffler argues that the transnational migrant circuit is being totally disrupted as people approach permanent settlement in places like Arkansas. Similarly, Debra Lattanzi-Shutika frames Mexican migration-immigration to Pennsylvania as a “new destination settlement,” part of a larger trend since the mid-1980s, “the phenomenon of Mexicans settling permanently in communities outside the border region” (Lattanzi-Shutika 2011:4).  Alaska is not included in recent studies about geographical diversification in migrant-immigrant origins and destinations, likely because the numbers in Alaska are, and always have been small. For example, the percentage of the Alaska population who are of Mexican origin was only 0.26% in 1960, 1.7% in 1990, and 3.0% in 2010 (US Census). My research could add Alaska as a “new destination settlement” in this way, but I problematize such a lineal trajectory, for Acuitzio certainly and perhaps for Mexican migrant-immigrants more generally. For one thing, such a conceptualization of a migrant heartland confines “the Mexican United States” to 18  the Southwest and Chicago. However, this renders mexicanos in other parts of the country as invisible or newly “out of place,” golondrinas outside of their “habitat.” Migration-immigration from Mexico to Alaska has been ongoing for decades, and although there have been changes over time, I hesitate to add Alaska as “new.” Alaska is a different destination from elsewhere in the United States, but it is not especially new. As well, rather than approaching permanent settlement in Alaska, this dissertation shows how, over time, people orient themselves more to the transnational social field as a whole, and require both locations and the common experience of mobility between them to feel “at home.” I seek to examine Anchorage as a site for the negotiation of the US-Mexico border despite its physical distance from the actual border, a site for the contingency of boundaries, for the ongoing social production of the boundaries between Alaska and the rest of the United States, between the United States and Mexico, and between Latin America and elsewhere. Families of Mexican background in Alaska are not people out of place, they are part of a conjectural space with repercussions in all directions (De Genova 2005:98). Indeed, as many scholars have noted: Latin America does not end at the US border (Beasley-Murray 2010; Kearney 2004; Rouse 2002). By conceptually extending the influence of the US-Mexico border across the entire continent, it is possible to envision links between south and north in producing larger systems and the fundamental total influence of the border and its inequalities across all of North America, not just along the border zone itself. Preconquest America was characterized by the flow of people and objects across the continent (Boehm 2012:15). Moreover, Western expansion and US imperialism in Latin America went hand in hand. The same American imperialist project that produced Alaska as a Last Frontier also produced "the west" and Latin America as spaces for resource exploitation. Central 19  to this process was the production of the US-Mexico and US-Canadian borders to delineate the limits of the imperial frontier. The border with Mexico was required for Western expansion, including Alaska (Price 2004:45). Spanish explorers who went to Alaska left from the shores of what later became Mexico means that the history of connection and exchange between Alaska and Mexico is potentially very long and very rich. There is potential not only for decolonization by viewing North America this way, but also revised histories. Southwestern USA was once Mexico, leaving behind Spanish speaking residents who say, “the border crossed us.” Alaska could have been Mexico, with a history of Spanish exploration, Spanish names inscribed on the landscape all over the state (Rey-Tejerina n.d.). What if before the American presence there, the Spanish had settled? What if they never left?  More recently, North America has been produced as a profoundly unequal economic and political unit, institutionally congealed within the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which produces its own crossings and disjunctures, potentially drawing together Alaska and Mexico under the rubric of “free trade” but ending up institutionalizing difference and capitalizing on economic inequality. Migrations in North America today are produced by inequality and reflect the profound imbalance of power playing out in everyday lives (Boehm 2012:15). “The intimacy of transnationality has been and continues to be characterized by both continuity and fragmentation: flows, connections, and linkages characterize transnational lives as do breaks, shifts, dislocations, and disruptions” (Boehm 2012:15). US immigration policies and practices have shaped intimate migrations (Boehm 2012:15).  The re-territorialization of people of Mexican background in Alaska can unsettle hegemonic assumptions about the racial-spatial order of the United States (c.f. Gordillo 2011). After all, Alaska is the furthest North American point from the polluted, mixed up space of the 20  US-Mexican border. Hispanics or Mexicans aren’t supposed to be here, far away from Los Angeles, San Jose, Texas and other geographies where their presence is taken for granted. But, they are. As I have argued elsewhere, Alaska needs to be conceptually “reconnected” (Komarnisky 2012). Although northern spaces occupy a unique position geographically and historically, they have always been produced through their interconnections with elsewhere. Alaska is the product of translocal imaginative, historical, and political economic processes (Ganapathy 2013). Translocal spatial formations have produced Alaskan landscapes as a place for either extractive resource development or of bountiful pristine nature were constituted and defined from afar, through legislative acts and imaginative representations made by southern outsiders (Ganapathy 2013).10 Viewing the north through its connections serves to contest stereotypes of Alaska and the circumpolar north as distant wilderness frontiers, and bring the north and the south together as coproduced geographies. Alaska has been a crossroads for Indigenous people on both sides of the Bering Strait and between different territories on the mainland, Spanish and British explorers, Russian fur traders and missionaries, American colonists, and people from all over the world who seek their fortunes in gold, fish, and oil, or look to find themselves as tourists in sublime wilderness landscapes (Buchholdt 1996; Dombrowski 2001; Feldman 2009; Fitzhugh and Crowell 1988; Friday 1994; Haycox and Mangusso 1996; Kollin 2001; Kurtz 2006; Langdon 1997; Luehrmann 2008; Olson 2002; Norris 1984; Willis 2010). In spite of the deep and ongoing history of continental connection, Mexicans in Alaska have been produced as unexpected, and people out of place. However, people                                                 10 Ganapathy analyses these translocal spatial formations in tension with the more grounded and culturally meaningful place-making of Gwich’in Athabascan people (Ganapathy 2013). 21  categorize back (Malkki 1995) and throughout this dissertation I analyze the crossings that draw together Alaska and Mexico in the everyday lives of people who move between these places.   Frictions, Paradoxes, and Power Geometries of Mobility  Throughout this dissertation, I also explore the role of mobility in the production of transnational space. Travel back and forth of people and other agents is key for maintaining a connection between Anchorage and Acuitzio. Indeed, for some people the very ‘state of movement’ is being ‘at home’ (Malkki 1992). Over time, Acuitzences orient themselves to a social world that encompasses both Anchorage and Acuitzio, and the common experience of mobility between them. Even when people settle more permanently at a site within the transnational social field, as I describe in more detail in the conclusion, the possibility of movement is always there.  Although the Acuitzences in this dissertation are able to travel relatively freely as dual citizens with US passports, I analyze the materiality of their mobilities by land, across borders, and through the air as inflected by multiple frictions and obstacles of terrain. As Acuitzences move, they engage with social, political, and imaginative landscapes, technologies of travel as well as with the unevenness of the terrain of the land and sky. Mobility between Mexico and Alaska therefore means experiencing friction, and especially the friction of socio-spatial distance, since these two locations are geographically located as far away from one another, and are socially produced as different ways of life within different nation-states. I also explore the power geometry of mobility among Acuitzences of different generations within one family network. My analysis of mobility unfolds through time among three generations of Acuitzences who have moved between these spaces. I show how friction 22  becomes converted into traction and describe how “provisional points of friction shift across uneven landscapes, historical moments, and the differential abilities of specific subjects to establish footholds that gain ground” (Moore 2005:281). Depending on the generational and gendered position of individual family members, Bravo family members established footholds in Alaska and have gained ground since. They have gained ground in terms of spatial mobility, as well as class mobility and immigration status moving from undocumented labourers in the 1950s and 1960s to relatively well off working class dual citizens with middle class aspirations today.   Members of the multigenerational Bravo family network have spatialized their relationships across the continent, and experience mobility depending on their positionality within the network, their gender, age, and immigration and socioeconomic status. People draw from and work within their positionality within multiple resources, systems, and structures to keep moving between ‘here’ and ‘there’.   Throughout, I analyze paradoxes of mobility for Acuitzences in Alaska. Processes and events that tie Acuitzences to place in Acuitzio, such as owning property, celebrating major life events, and having income-generating businesses there end up facilitating mobility, making it easier to come and go. In Anchorage as well, processes that tie people to Alaska as they spend more time there, becoming more established socially and financially, owning property, and advancing in their careers, it becomes easier to travel back and forth. A major paradox is the relationship between citizenship and mobility. Citizenship is intended to tie individuals to a specific nation-state, as evident in the language and procedures of becoming a citizen. Through the process of becoming a citizen, you “become” American, tied to the nation-state as you receive the rights and obligations of a citizen. However, the process of obtaining citizenship also facilitates mobility or even requires it as a matter of process.  23  Deborah Boehm asked people in both the United States and Mexico where they would choose to live, if anywhere. They told her that they wished for the freedom to come and go, to build their lives from both sides of the border (Boehm 2012:3). She analyzed the multiple barriers to such mobility that undocumented or mixed-status families face, including the presence of the US state in everyday lives, categories that define and exclude, border controls, and deportations. These processes limit movement and can result in very long periods between coming and going (Boehm 2012:3). Other factors that prevent fluid, unrestricted movement include different subjectivities, experiences and circumstances based on legal status, age, gender, sexuality, socio-economic class, access to resources, race/ethnicity, marital status, family ties. These intersect with political-economic realities shaping who migrates, if, when, and how often, the character of their border crossings, and finally, their length of stay in the United States (Boehm 2012:4). In spite of these barriers, Boehm shows that people still want the freedom to come and go between the United States and Mexico, to make lives from both sides of the border, to live here and there (Boehm 2012:3, my emphasis). Therefore, a key applied finding of my work is an exploration of transnational life among people who are able to come and go. This has important implications for immigration policy, since people want to be able to live across the border, to move around more freely, and ultimately, to exploit the structural inequality of the North American economy, building their lives across the US-Mexico border and in more than one place. Many Acuitzences in Alaska are living that ideal due to relative privilege and expertise with mobility and living across borders. These people hold dual US-Mexican citizenship or US permanent residency and are able to move across the continent in a way that many Mexican migrants cannot. They are able to come and go, and have been successful at maintaining 24  connections and building identities in both Anchorage and Acuitzio. Although people experience being “neither here nor there” like the immigrant workers that Striffler describes (2007), through mobility and other spatial practices, Acuitzences in Alaska also work to be here and there, to come and go, orienting themselves to a transnational social field that extends between both places. To feel at home in the world, these people rely on their fraught and uneven spatial attachments to each place, and on the common experience of mobility between them. Organization of the Thesis  In analyzing the everyday lives of Acuitzences who move between Acuitzio and Anchorage, I start from their words, insights, and actions along with my participant-observation of life within this transnational social field. The following chapter describes Acuitzio and Anchorage in greater detail, and outlines the multi-sited methodology used for this project.  The following two chapters analyze mobilities between Mexico and Alaska, specifically the spatial practice of Acuitzences in terms of mobility, the physical and material flows, transfers, and interactions that occur in and across space and assure production and social reproduction. Chapter 3, The Annual Migration of the Traveling Swallows – Friction, Distance and Transnational Mobility, is about the materiality of mobility across the long distance between Mexico and Alaska. I use the concept of friction to show how mobility of people is never smooth, for they encounter frictions and obstacles along the way. Friction is the point at which an individual’s mobility engages with the social, political, and geographic terrain, including weather, border crossings, airport security, long distances, and other frictions encountered along the route.   I continue the focus on mobility through time within a multigenerational family unit in Chapter 4, “My Grandfather Worked Here” – Generation, Gender, and Travel Back and Forth. 25  This chapter is about the initial migrations from Acuitzio to Alaska, and how this mobility has gained traction and continued across three generations. The history of movement between Acuitzio and Anchorage takes place within this multigenerational family whose members differ along lines of gender and generation. Migration is not a linear or unidirectional movement between distinct, bounded nation-states, nor is it a progression from Mexican to US-American over time. Instead, people orient their lives to the circuit as a whole where the shared experience of mobility produces a transnational social field. By transnational social field, I mean the field of social relations that extends between points in different nation states (Schiller et al. 1992). In this dissertation, the transnational social field is produced through the shared experience of mobility and the maintenance of familial, economic, social, organizational, religious, and political relations between Anchorage, Alaska and Acuitzio, Michoacán. The next two chapters shift the analysis away from mobility per se to other forms of spatial practices within transnational space. In Chapter 5, “You Have To Get Used To It” –The Making of a Transnational Habitus, I analyze the ways in which people produce a sense of belonging in transnational space. People talk about having to get used to a new way of life. On the one hand, they work to connect Mexico and Alaska in their everyday lives and develop a transnational habitus where Acuitzences travel with things, they build relationships on both sides of the border, they develop skills and statuses to operate on both sides, and their subjectivities draw on multiple points of reference. But people also navigate regimes that keep the two separate. Such regimes produce differential legal statuses like US-Mexican dual citizens, US permanent residents, or  those with “undocumented” status. Such statuses result in different sets of dispositions and practices and ultimately, a different transnational habitus. Access to US residency and citizenship also affects the process of transnational class formation, whereby 26  people build livelihoods and lives across the US-Mexico border. Belonging in transnational space means feeling at home in both Acuitzio and Alaska, with the opportunity to move between them.  In Chapter 6: “It Freezes the People Together” – Producing a Mexican Alaska, I write about groups that re-categorize space and produce a Mexican Alaska. I write about institutions and groups that “freeze the people together” in Anchorage and Mexico, such as the Mexican Consulate in Anchorage, the dance and culture group Xochiquetzal-Tiqun, the restaurant Mexico in Alaska, and the Acuitzio del Canje Migrant Club in Alaska to explore how each of these groups produce representations of Mexican Alaska through image and collective action. These groups each bring Mexico and Alaska together into new representations of space, re-categorizing and expanding the borders of Latin America.  I conclude this dissertation by analyzing where Acuitzences in Alaska see their future. As I argue throughout this dissertation, people orient their lives and mobilities to the transnational space that extends between Mexico and Alaska. As circumstances change along the life course, within Acuitzio and Anchorage, in North America, or globally, people are able to be flexible, and expand or contract the network as necessary. In fact, some Acuitzences are reorienting their primary residence to Mexico, but keeping a house in Alaska so that they can visit. Again, the possibility of mobility is always there. The ideal transnational life is lived in both Anchorage and Acuitzio and along routes between them, and identities are built that draw on these multiple spatial points of reference. Transnational life between Mexico and Alaska thus re-works expectations about the North, Alaska, and Mexicans in the United States to include the multiplicity of trajectories that cross the continent.   27  Chapter 2: North American Fieldwork – Between Acuitzio and Anchorage  “Why not focus on any culture’s farthest range of travel while also looking at its centers, its villages, its intensive fieldsites?” (Clifford 1997:25)  When Your Field Site Leaves You  At the end of twelve months of fieldwork, ten of which I spent in Anchorage, I found myself left behind in Alaska. It was late June and the sun only set for a couple of hours each night, leaving the city in twilight until the very early dawn. I spent my time going to visit fieldwork contacts who were leaving for Mexico, packing up my own small apartment in Fairview, and planning the long drive back to Canada. As more of my main contacts and friends in Anchorage left, I soon realized that I wasn’t an anthropologist preparing to leave the field; I was an anthropologist whose field had already left.  Similarly, since I first went to Acuitzio for fieldwork in 2005, I had been back to visit at times when my Alaskan contacts were visiting and other times when they weren’t there, and found it a very different experience. The town was quieter, there were fewer events with no migrants in town, and houses where I had been welcomed were closed up and empty for the season. My fieldsite hadn’t arrived yet; I was visiting at the wrong time.  This is only possible because I had designed my project to focus on Acuitzences in Alaska, and not Acuitzio or Anchorage in general. Or, more specifically, the goal of my dissertation research was to examine the historical and ongoing connections created between Alaska and Mexico by multi-generational families of Mexican background. In particular, I focused on the spatial practices of families living in Anchorage and Acuitzio, and how their 28  constructions of a new sense of belonging in Alaska are entangled with ongoing patterns of mobility, practices, and imaginings that connect them with Acuitzio, their town of origin in Michoacán. Through ethnographic fieldwork in both Anchorage and Acuitzio, I planned to explore the potential tensions that may emerge between these people’s patterns of transnational mobility and the more rigid spatial imaginings of North America, like that of US Immigration Law, the dominant media representations about Mexican migrants in the US and the widespread image of Alaska as a space of wilderness seemingly removed, due to its location in the far north of North America, from the impact of Mexican migration. I was interested in how people from Acuitzio produce these spaces as connected even as political, economic, and imaginative processes produced them as extremely separate. My research would focus on how transnational connections are constructed through family and kinship ties and how these family ties take social form within specific networks of social relations. My fieldsite was a transnational space that extends between Mexico and Alaska, which, although not clearly delineated on a map, could be found among the people who live transnationally. Although North America became the structural frame for my ethnography, I chose a methodology that would allow me to zoom in on the everyday lives of people who move across the continent.  Multi-sited Ethnography To do this, I planned to do multi-sited ethnography, a mobile ethnography that traces a cultural formation across and within multiple sites of activity. “Multi-sited research is designed around chains, paths, threads, conjunctions, or juxtapositions of locations in which the ethnographer establishes some form of literal, physical presence, with an explicit, posited logic of association or connection among sites that in fact defines the argument of the ethnography” 29  (Marcus 1995:105). This method has been taken up by anthropologists in general but has been particularly important for the study of transnational processes, enabling the researcher to ethnographically trace processes as they play out in daily life in different sites. For studies of Mexican migration and immigration to the United States, multi-sited research usually implies ethnography in communities in Mexico and the United States. Recent ethnographies by Deborah Boehm (2012), Lynn Stephen (2007), and Debra Lattanzi Shutika (2012) illustrate the strength of conducting research at different sites within a transnational social field. For example, Lynn Stephen (2007) situated her ethnography Transborder Lives in small villages in Oaxaca and across ethnic, class, colonial, and state borders within other regions in Mexico and the United States. Debra Lattanzi Shutika (2012) did fieldwork with Mexican families in Textitlán, Guanajuato and Kennett Square, Pennsylvania over ten years, tracking the formation of a new destination settlement in Kennett Square and accompanying changes in Textitlán. Deborah Boehm (2012) traced “intimate migrations,” flows that both shape and are structured by gendered and familial actions and interactions, but are always defined by the presence of the U.S. state. She traced these flows through ethnographic research in a rural village in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, as well as in the United States.  I ethnographically “followed the people” from Acuitzio to Anchorage, spending summer in Acuitzio, and the fall, winter, and spring in Anchorage, like they do. I also travelled between Acuitzio and Seattle with the Bravo Family, as analyzed in Chapter 3. As I followed the people, and focused on the connections they make to produce transnational space I also became one of those connections between places, someone who, along with my research participants, lived in the same transnational social field. As such, I also documented my own travel to and from Acuitzio and Anchorage along airplane and highway routes. 30  Is research conducted this way best conceived of as multiple fieldsites or as one site extended across the continent? I believe there are methodological implications of each. By defining transnational space as a spatial formation produced by and extended from Acuitzio to Anchorage by the people I worked with, then my fieldsite represents one single spatial formation, with key points at either end. In the following chapters, by reading about the lives and travels of Acuitzences to, within, and from Alaska, we can start to see how these places, Acuitzio and Anchorage, have always been connected to elsewhere and could be imagined as a single transnational social field. This is different than two places linked through migration, a conceptualization of space that reinforces the sedentarist metaphysics of nation-states as distinct and bounded spaces. However, it is also clear that the uniqueness of each fieldsite matters. The specifics of these locations inflect the transnational social field with particularities. For example, Acuitzio is more similar to Anchorage than you first expect. As I will elaborate in Chapters 4 and 5, the network of Acuitzences who regularly move between Acuitzio and Anchorage means that you encounter the same people in each place. The emphasis on nature, especially mountains and water, in both places, is another similarity that people mention. For instance, one of my interviewees told me that when he first arrived in Alaska, it seemed “almost like Mexico because of the vegetation. Because of the vegetation it was like the countryside in Mexico. Different kinds of trees, but the pines are really similar. And the city of Anchorage was small.” The fact that Acuitzio and Anchorage are both experienced as relatively small also makes the experience of these two places more similar. For some people, for example, Mexico City was experienced as more different and socio-spatially distant than Anchorage. Consider as well that Acuitzio is not tropical. Since it is located at a higher altitude in the highlands, during the winter months it can 31  be cold. It is possible to feel colder in Acuitzio with no central heating than it is in Anchorage, where one goes from heated home to heated car to heated workplace.  The location within the United States matters as well, so that Mexican Chicago is qualitatively different from Mexican Alaska, from Southern California, from North Carolina. For Acuitzences in particular, they organize differently in each place and therefore experience each US location differently. For example, in Chicago, Acuitzences are very involved in politics, including national-level immigration protests and labour rights as well as Acuitzio-focused fundraising and action. In Anchorage, they are less involved with these kinds of organized activities, which fits more with Alaska’s libertarian political climate. Alaska is also unique as a destination because of large number and unique status of Alaska Natives, the distinctive ethnic diversity in Anchorage, and a widespread culture of hunting, fishing, and living from the land. In what follows, I describe the fieldsites for this project in greater detail: Anchorage, Acuitzio, and the routes in between. I then describe my methodological practice in this transnational space, and the data that I collected for this dissertation.   Acuitzio, Michoacán, México “It’s the most beautiful town in Mexico. No, cabrón, in the world!” – Luis Bravo  Acuitzio del Canje is the cabecera or head of the municipality of Acuitzio, which encompasses forty population centres, most of which are small ranchos or hamlets with less than 100 residents each (Jonasson 2008). It is located in a beautiful setting in the cool uplands of the state of Michoacán, near the capital city of Morelia (Wiest 1973, 2009). In the 2010 census, the population of the municipality was reported as 10,987, with over half of the population (6,333) 32  residing in Acuitzio del Canje (INEGI 2010). Of course, this does not include the entire population of Acuitzences who claim the municipality as their home and to my knowledge there are no numbers currently available to calculate how many Acuitzences live elsewhere yet travel back regularly and maintain homes and social relationships there.  From Morelia, located in the Guayangareo valley surrounded by hills, you take Highway 14 Morelia – Uruapan/México in the direction of Tiripetio. The highway winds up into the hills, gaining elevation. The road levels out and at Tiripetio you turn left onto the libramiento that leads from Tiripetio, through Acuitzio, and on to Villa Madero and the Tierra Caliente. Acuitzences proudly state that one of the first universities in the Americas was established in Tiripetio (Arenas García 1988) and now an escuela normal rural11 is located there. After Tiripetio, the road now follows a valley bordered by milpas and then begins to gain elevation again, onto the shoulders of the Cerro Viejo overlooking the town, also known as the Cerro de la Cruz for the cross mounted at the summit. At the colonia of Las Peñas, so named for its location among the rocky cliffs and hills of the Cerro Viejo, is a large sign that says Welcome to Acuitzio del Canje: Place of the Exchange of French and Belgian Prisoners for Mexicans 186512 highlighting the historical significance of this exchange of prisoners that added del Canje to the town’s name, becoming Acuitzio of the Exchange.                                                     11 An escuela normal or normal school is a teacher’s college. In Mexico, the system of normal schools was created after the Mexican revolution, and maintains some of the revolutionary ethos of that era in the focus on educating and uplifting the rural poor. 12 Bienvenidos a Acuitzio del Canje: Lugar del Canje de Prisioneros Belgas y Franceses por Mexicanos 1865 33         Figure 1: Interior Michoacán, Mexico.  Map by Paul Hackett, adapted with permission (© 1970 Raymond E. Wiest).     34  To enter the town itself, a driver would make a left hand turn off of this highway, driving down a street that starts out fairly wide, then narrows and becomes one-way as it bends, then passes by the plaza and continues on Riva Palacio. The plaza and this street make up the social and economic hearts of the town. It is also the religious centre, since Riva Palacio is bookended by two churches, the Parroquia de San Nicolás and the Santuario del Sagrado Corazón. The municipal administration offices are also located at one end of the plaza, opposite the Parroquia. Adobe brick and concrete houses sit snugly against the sidewalks, many of which are painted a deep red and white, following a traditional style in the region. Along Riva Palacio hand lettered signs advertise butcher shops, restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses. To the south of the town centre just off the highway that leads to Villa Madero is la Colonia Riva Palacio, most often referred to as La Colonia by local residents (Jonasson 2008). La Colonia is considered pretty far from town, even though to walk to the plaza from there takes only about 15-20 minutes.  The plaza itself is rectangular in shape, with the town administration at one end, and the Parroquia at the other. It has low walls around all sides, a kiosco and a fountain, carefully tended grass and manicured shrubs, and benches to sit on. The plaza is the centre of social relations for Acuitzences who live in town, and the focus of much nostalgia for those who live and work abroad. The portales run along both sides of the plaza with the small library, the only ATM machine in town, a restaurant and an ice cream shop, a veterinarian, as well as several stores. In the plaza itself are vendors in carts who sell tacos, hamburgers and hot dogs, fresh juice, among other things. Going to the plaza for tacos, ice cream, or hamburgers is a popular and delicious pastime. Major celebrations also happen in the plaza, or in the plazuela, just off to one side near the Parroquia. When I stayed in Acuitzio during the summer of 2011, there was a basketball 35  tournament in the plazuela, and every evening a crowd would gather to watch local teams compete against each other. Just ‘going to the plaza’ is a social event in and of itself. I remember sitting on a plaza bench, listening to the sounds of birds in the trees, murmurs of conversation, the sounds of streets and sidewalks being swept, and pre-recorded advertisements or loud banda music played from car speakers.  Acuitzences describe their town as tranquilo, quiet or peaceful, even as Michoacán in general is known as the home of drug cartels La Familia and Los Caballeros Templarios. The attempts of these groups to control space and mobility can make it more difficult to travel within the region. After buses were hijacked and set on fire along local highways, residents became wary of traveling by bus, and especially at night. My friend Alina would ask friends and family to update her by text if there were any problems on the highway when driving her own car on day trips within the region to Uruapan, Pátzcuaro, or local water parks.13 Local residents told me to be cautious about hiking in the mountains, taking the bus or driving at night, or visiting more dangerous towns and regions in Michoacán. When I started fieldwork in 2011, 21 corpses were found at the freeway entrances and exits to the capital city of Morelia, effectively closing the city until the police completed their investigation. More recently, fuerzas autodefensas in some communities in Michoacán, although not Acuitzio, were created to fight back against organized crime and corruption. In spite of staggering levels of violence and crime in Michoacán associated with cartel control over territory, government corruption, and the US-led War on Drugs, many                                                 13 In the region around Acuitzio, there are many natural thermal springs and some of these have been developed into water parks, called balnearios. During the hottest time of the year, these are popular places to go for a day trip, to swim and enjoy a picnic or carne asada (grilled beef) at the park.  36  people continue to describe Acuitzio as tranquilo and go home to visit regularly. Others who live in the United States are not so sure, and wonder how safe it is to travel back.  The town is known for its natural atmosphere and for having lots of water. In Morelia, when I told taxi drivers or shop clerks or others that I was staying in Acuitzio, a common response was: “Ah, Acuitzio, hay mucha agua allá”. And so there is: one important landmark for town residents is the ojo de agua, or spring. At higher elevations farmland gives way to pine forests. In the past, an important industry in the region was forestry and related to that, furniture production. Today, many of the pine forests in the area have been cleared to farm avocados in the highlands. Avocados are called oro verde or green gold in this region, and they require a large investment, and huge pools of water to irrigate them.  In terms of the stories that town residents tell about the history of the pueblo, Acuitzio is a crossroads, a meeting up point for many trajectories. For example, I met with Pascual for an interview in the plaza in Acuitzio in 2011. Pascual was born and raised in Acuitzio, but lived and worked in Alaska in the 1990s. His father also worked in Alaska. During our interview I asked him to describe Acuitzio for me. He said, “Well it’s a pueblo tradicionalista, and the most important part of Acuitzio is the history, no? Acuitzio is marked by historic events. The most important of these, well it’s when the French Intervention was here, no? In fact, before they called this town Acuitzio it had many names. One of them was Coyapán, which means lake of the snakes. That lake extended from just outside Acuitzio to Patzcuaro. Acuitzio, on its shield, has several decorations, no? There are the colours of France, the colours of Mexico, and in the middle we have a cannon crossed by rifles, but in the prehispanic part we have a mountain with a serpent and a lake. So that is about Coyapán, it talks about who we were long ago. After that, it changed to Coatepec, and later to Acuitzio. The names changed because the culture changed. The group of people and the language, no?”  37  In fact, Tapia notes, Aztecs called the area “Coatepec”, which was translated by the P’urhépecha14 into their own language as Acuitzio, both of which mean place of snakes (Tapia 1945).  Pascual continues, “Later the Spanish arrived. And they said, okay, we have to give all of these indigenous people a saint so they will pray, no? And this saint was called San Nicolás de Tolentino, and one of those saints is still here, inside the church. After that they called the place, San Nicolás de Acuitzio. But it didn’t last, later they just called it Acuitzio, which means place of snakes.” Indeed, Carlos Arenas García traced the movement of Augustinian priests in the area, where they founded a convent in Tiripetio, as well as a university, the “Casa de Estudios Mayores” in 1540. The Augustinians gave Acuitzio San Nicolás de Tolentino as their patron saint, and for many centuries the town was indeed known as San Nicolás Acuitzio (Arenas García 1988:9).  The most important historical crossing of all was the exchange of French and Belgian prisoners for Mexican ones on December 5, 1865, an act that historians say led to the end of the Franco-Mexican war, created by the brief attempt by the Second French Empire under Napoleon III to conquer Mexico. Orchestrated by General Vicente Riva Palacio, whose name graces Acuitzio’s main street, this exchange is celebrated annually with day-long celebrations featuring a re-enactment of the exchange itself. In 1901 the town’s name was changed to Acuitzio del Canje, or in English, Acuitzio of the Exchange, to commemorate this event. Pascual continues, “When the French arrived to the area, Vicente Riva Palacio was stationed here, with many French and Belgian prisoners. At that time war was about honour. It wasn’t just killing for the                                                 14 P’urhépecha are an indigenous group of Michoacán. They and their language are also sometimes referred to as Tarascan.  38  sake of killing, it was different then. Anyway, Riva Palacio sent a letter to the French commander and said, I have your prisoners, and I know that you have mine. Let’s exchange them. Where? In Acuitzio. When? December 5, 1865. And from that day, they have called it Acuitzio del Canje, after the exchange of prisoners, no?”  Pascual said that even though the exchange of prisoners in Acuitzio eventually led to the end of the war, it has had a lasting impact on the area. He said, “Certainly, some French people stayed here, living in the fringes, in the mountains, because they were people who had already spent many years here, decades even, fighting for a king and country they have lost. They couldn’t cross the Atlantic back to France so they stayed here.” The last names of many people in Acutizio reflect this, Pascual’s included. He said, “My name isn’t Mexican, it isn’t Gómez or López, it isn’t Spanish, right? The French who stayed were persecuted and they sought refuge in the mountains near Tacámbaro and they changed their last names. From De la Bastia to Bastida.” Moreover, Pascual thinks his grandfather looked phenotypically French, “My grandfather was tall, really tall. He was also güero, not very indigenous looking at all, more French, no?” It’s true that many people from Acuitzio have light skin, eyes, and hair. One friend and research contact said that many people don’t believe he’s Mexican, with his blue eyes, light skin, and brown hair. Pascual also inherited his grandfather’s güero complexion.  Pascual continues, “So every December 5 in the parade, when I was a child I was tall and I always dressed up as a French soldier for the parade. Anyway, the exchange was the most important historical event for the town.” He paused briefly, looking around the plaza before continuing, “This place has remained, no? A little of the architecture, the culture, the traditions, but basically it’s based in the traditions, in the religious and civic fiestas.” 39  Carlos Arenas García (1988) characterized Acuitzio as the access point to the mountains and the natural way to the southern part of the state, which allows for regional products from a large area to be distributed to other areas of the state and even outside of it. The town is near the path of the Camino Real, which was once used by colonists, missionaries, and supply caravans to travel between Mexico City and Santa Fe during the Spanish Colonial period. Gonzalo Calderón says that portions of that road still remain, buried under the dirt. In his dissertation, Wiest notes that the most memorable events in town history occurred during periods of conflict, due to the town’s strategic location between the Tierra Caliente and the railroad, which was completed in 1901 (Wiest 1970:11). Since the town was in a strategic place for the control of goods, Acuitzio was caught up in the independence movement, the French intervention, and the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920 and the Cristero rebellion of the 1920s (Arenas García 1988; Garibay Sotelo 1980; Tapia 1945). The town was also an important commercial center and stopover point in the trade route of agricultural products from the Tierra Caliente (Wiest 1970:12). In fact the main route went straight through town, right along Riva Palacio. The town was once well known for wagon wheel building and repair, as well as huarache15 and shoe making. Shoe making remained important well into the 1970s (Wiest 1970, 1973). In the 1930s, the heavy traffic of goods from the lowlands to the railway and Morelia was diverted when the government constructed roads into Tacámbaro through Pátzcuaro, and into Huetamo from the highway leading to Mexico City. “A town that once relied on income from trade, in the form of night lodging, services, small businesses, and crafts, suddenly was caught with an excessive number of retailers and services. This change has had a marked effect on the entire municipality and is the                                                 15 Huaraches are a Mexican sandal with Precolombian origins. "40  single most important factor underlying the continuous rate of out-migration” (Wiest 1970:12). As the route shifted, then, Acuitzio lost its position as an important way-point, and many people left, seeking work elsewhere in Mexico and across the border in the United States. All of these things reveal that Acuitzio has long been a place spatially connected to elsewhere, and this is vital for the town’s sense of itself. Then as now, “Acuitzio must be seen as a town within a region relating to national Mexico and even to parts of the rest of the world” (Wiest 1970:12), including, as is shown in this dissertation, Alaska. The town, then, has been configured as outward-reaching, and indeed, as a collective, has been successful at extending its residents to points elsewhere, while keeping them engaged in the community. An important part of this connection to elsewhere is labour mobility. Acuitzio has a long history of labour migration to many destinations in the United States and elsewhere in Mexico. In 1970, Raymond Wiest wrote, “There has been a heavy emigration out of the rural areas into the cabecera, while at the same time townspeople have left the cabecera and migrated to urban centres, primarily Mexico City. This changeover of town residents is continuing” (Wiest 1970:10). Today, there are sizable populations of Acuitzences in Chicago, in the Los Angeles region, and in agricultural towns of the San Joaquin Valley in California, and in Anchorage, Alaska (Jonasson 2008). Acuitzio is town of migrants, and has been for generations now, and this is visible on license plates on vehicles in town, in currency exchange businesses along the main street, and in the annual celebration of the Día de los Norteños or Day of the Northerners on January 2, which celebrates town residents who work in the United States with a jaripeo16 and dance (Jonasson 2008).                                                  16 Bull riding rodeo. 41  Anchorage, Alaska, USA Over 7,800 kilometres north and west of Acuitzio is the city of Anchorage, located at about 61 degrees North, nestled between Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains. The Dena’ina people had settlements along Knik Arm for years before English explorer Captain James Cook explored and described the area in 1778. Russian traders and missionaries likely frequented the area as well, at least until Russian America was sold to the United States in 1867. The city of Anchorage itself was originally established as a tent city for workers building the Alaska railroad beginning in 1914. Anchorage is now the largest city in the state of Alaska, with a population of approximately 291,826, about half of the population of the entire state (US Census Bureau 2010).  On the way into Anchorage along the Alaska Highway and the Glenn Highway from Tok there are only smaller settlements and towns, forests, and mountains, rivers, and lakes. On the outskirts of Anchorage, however, the population density grows as you pass through the Matanuska Valley, and towns of Wasilla, Palmer, and Eagle River. Wasilla is now famous as the home of ex-governor and one time vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, but it is also known as the start of the Iditarod dogsled race. The freeway widens, and on one side you pass a large American flag and a sign welcoming you to Fort Richardson-Elmendorf Joint Base. Construction of Alaska’s military facilities began during World War II, due to Alaska’s proximity to Japan. These facilities assumed an increasing role during the Cold War, then because of proximity to the Soviet Union. Military bases like Fort Richardson and Elmendorf have had a huge impact on the city of Anchorage. Today, they employ over 5,000 soldiers and civilians, many of whom 42  come from outside Alaska.17 After the entrance to Fort Richardson-Elmendorf, you pass Tikahtnu Commons with its expansive parking lot, movie theatre, nation wide chain stores and restaurants like Target, Kohl’s and the Olive Garden, and more local businesses like the Firetap Alehouse or Alaska Communications.  The city stretches out in all directions. It has one of the lowest population densities of any city in the United States, and its nearly 300,000 residents live in an urban area roughly the size of the state of Rhode Island. The city of Anchorage fills the whole plain between Turnagain Arm to the south and Knik Arm to the north, extending from the mudflats of Cook Inlet to the east up into the shoulders of the Chugach Mountains to the west. This spread out nature of the city means that there are many parks, and areas of open forest here and there. It also means that most people drive to and from home, work, school, shopping, and other activities. In contrast to Acuitzio, it is difficult to get around by bus and walking long distances is challenging. I found walking also to be considered odd by most people I knew in Anchorage, who would offer me a ride rather than let me walk.18                                                       17 Demographer Chad Farrell told me that, based on data from the 2010 US Census, the largest concentration of people of Mexican background is Fort Richardson (Farrell, personal communication 2014). Through archival research I also found that during the 1940s and 1950s many Mexican-born air force and army personnel became US citizens while stationed at military facilities in Alaska.  18 The neighbourhood I lived in, Fairview, had a bad reputation. Part of this was due to its low socioeconomic status, but I believe part of this was also because there were many Alaska Natives seen walking around in the neighbourhood. Although some may have been drinking, most were visiting Anchorage from rural communities, and therefore didn’t have a car to get around with. Hanging out in Fairview and walking around on foot was considered highly “sketchy” by middle class Anchorageites, but I liked the neighbourhood, its walkability, and its proximity to downtown.  43          Figure 2: Alaska, USA. Map by Paul Hackett.    44  Driving through the city you might notice that the tallest buildings are either hotels or oil company offices, reflecting two of the main industries in the state: oil and tourism. Wildlife is common in the city, especially moose, and it is very common to see moose ambling down a busy street, or sleeping outside of your doorway, even in more densely populated parts of the city. When the salmon are running, you can fish downtown at Ship Creek, or watch the fish running in Chester or Campbell Creeks. On a clear day, looking north, you can see Denali Mountain, or Mount McKinley, about 214 kilometres (133 miles) away. It looms larger than you might expect for that distance. Also on a clear day, looking west, you can see the Tordrillo Range,19 snow covered and jagged across the sea. Mount Susitna, or Sleeping Lady Mountain, so named because the mountain looks like a prone person, sits directly across Knik Arm, and is a notable landmark in the area.  Running through Anchorage from North to South is the Seward Highway, named so because it goes to Seward, about two and a half hours away on the Kenai Peninsula, the town itself a namesake of William H. Seward, the governor who initially purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. In addition to the highway, Anchorage also has a large port, located near downtown, rail service, Ted Stevens International Airport and multiple smaller airports, as well as Elmendorf Air Force base, to the north of town. For the state of Alaska, Anchorage is where things move in, and through, to other destinations around the state, or to locations within the city. Anchorage is also a hub for international shipping, and the sounds of airplanes taking off, landing, or flying overhead are commonly heard. As is the constant hum of traffic and the clicks, calls, and echoes made by city-dwelling ravens.                                                  19 Although the name of the range appears Spanish, it may be an adaptation of a Dena’ina (Athabascan) placename (Bright 2004:508). 45  Alaska is uniquely ethnically diverse,20 and Anchorage is no exception. For one, Anchorage is the largest “native village” in the state (Feldman 2009), with many people of Iñupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and Northern Athabaskan background who live, work, or study in the Anchorage area. As well, people who live in rural villages travel to Anchorage from all over Alaska to access health and social services, for cultural gatherings, to shop, visit family, for leisure, or en route to other destinations. Students in the Anchorage School District speak at least 93 different languages at home (English Language Learners Program 2013). As well, the Alaskan Institute for Justice has trained over 200 bilingual interpreters in 40 languages through their Language Interpreter Centre (Farrell 2014) .The three census tracts with the highest diversity in the United States in 2010 were in Anchorage, encompassing the neighborhood of Mountain View and parts of Airport Heights and Muldoon (Farrell 2014). Finally, the top three highest diversity high schools in the United States are East, Bartlett, and West High Schools, all located in Anchorage (Farrell 2014).  Anchorage can thus be seen as a crossroads: of cargo, of cultures, and of humans and animals. In fact, in downtown Anchorage in front of the Pioneer Cabin Visitor’s Centre, there is a sign that proclaims Anchorage as the “Air Crossroads of the World,” with arrows pointing from all sides listing distances to major global cities. People from all over North America and other continents have passed through Anchorage or other points in Alaska, entry points to the gold rush, the oil boom, and or to make money in fishing camps or on fishing boats. Perhaps,                                                 20 For example, in 2014 The Atlantic reported that the top two most diverse counties in the United States are in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands due to the commercial king crab fishery there (Narula 2014). Potential oil development would increase labour migration to the islands (Rosenthal 2014). 46  then, Anchorage gathers. It is a place that people go towards and seek out, whether for work, adventure, or access to wilderness.   Tracing Mexican Alaska Mexican Alaska is the term I use throughout this dissertation to refer to the spatial formation where Mexico and Alaska are connected through transnational and transgenerational mobility, which I will analyze in more detail in Chapters 2 and 3. Here I draw on the idea of “Greater Mexico” proposed by Américo Paredes (1995) as all areas inhabited by people of a Mexican culture. We can extend Greater Mexico all the way to Alaska, both drawing upon and defying the geopolitical boundaries along the way. I also envision a spatial formation like De Genova’s Mexican Chicago, whereby Alaska is practically and materially implicated in Mexico and belongs meaningfully to Latin America (2005)."Specifically, I trace the extension of “Greater Acuitzio” within a larger Greater Mexico that extends throughout the continent. People even talk about Anchorage this way, calling it “Anchorage del Canje,” because there are so many people there from Acuitzio. Indeed, in the Anchorage Spanish speaking community, or in businesses or institutions that serve them, people know of Acuitzio because of the relatively large number of people from the town who live in Anchorage.  In Anchorage itself, Hispanic/Latinos21 now comprise 7.6% of the population (US Census Bureau 2010). Estimates about the number of people from Acuitzio currently living and                                                 21 This census category has changed over time, as have the definitions and social meanings of terms used to describe people like “Hispanic” and “Latino.” For more on changing census categories in the United States, see Rodriguez 2000. For more on terminology within the Mexican diaspora, see Rinderle 2005. I use “Hispanic” and “Latino” in this section because that is how these data are reported. My participants preferred to call themselves “Mexicans” or “mexicanos.” 47  working in Alaska vary. But of the roughly 11,52622 individuals living in Anchorage who are of Mexican origin (US Census Bureau 2010), my participants estimated that about 1,000 men, women, and children in Anchorage are from Acuitzio, a number that fluctuates depending on the season. By asking interviewees about their network of family, friends, and acquaintances from Acuitzio in Alaska, I was able to estimate that there were about 400 Acuitzences in Anchorage during my fieldwork. However, this does not include certain groups of individuals such as, for example, a group from town who worked at a greenhouse in south Anchorage every summer. I understand that they work under a temporary foreign worker program and are provided with room and board at the greenhouse site. The exact number of Acuitzences in Alaska doesn’t matter here as much as the way Anchorage is experienced. The social world of Acuitzences in Anchorage is made up of other Acuitzences, both in Anchorage and in Acuitzio itself.  Some characteristics of the Mexican population in Alaska seem to be different from that of Mexican migrants elsewhere the United States. My colleague, Dayra Velázquez, certainly found this to be true when she arrived in Anchorage for MA thesis fieldwork in 2006 (Velázquez 2007). She told me that she had arrived with questionnaires developed for use with migrants in Southern California. And she found that the questions were totally inappropriate in Alaska, where the Mexican migrants and immigrants she met owned their own homes and businesses and were not working in fields or as dishwashers, struggling to make ends meet. She frames migration to Alaska as different in terms of destination and in terms of the work that people do, so that rather than working in farms and fields like in California, newcomers from Mexico work in fish canneries and restaurant kitchens (García and Velázquez 2013).                                                 22 3.9% of the population of Anchorage. 48   In a 2013 report about Alaska Economic Trends, drawing on data from the 2010 US Census, the authors report that, in general, the Hispanic population in Alaska has grown by 52% between 2000 and 2010 (Hunsinger 2013). Although Hispanic residents in Alaska make up a smaller segment of the population compared to the nation as a whole (5.5%, 16.3% nationwide), the increase over the 2000-2010 census period is higher for Alaska (52% increase, whereas it was 43% nationwide). The authors of the report attribute this growth both to migration/immigration and “natural increase” meaning that there were more births than deaths in this population. Like the nationwide Hispanic/Latino population, Alaskan Hispanics tend to be younger than the general population. Most Hispanic Alaskans live in Anchorage (home to 56.2% of all Hispanic Alaskans) and within the Anchorage bowl, Hispanic people are not concentrated in any particular neighbourhood.23 Outside of Anchorage, US census data shows higher shares of Hispanic residents in the Aleutian census areas, Kodiak Island, and Fairbanks borough. Different from the Hispanic population in the Lower 48, most Hispanic Alaskans were born in the United States (77.5% in AK, 61.9 nationwide), more report speaking English well (88.0% in AK, 77.2% nationwide), and they have a higher educational attainment than in the Lower 48 (76.7% in AK, 615% nationwide). Finally, “substantially fewer Hispanics were below the poverty level in Alaska than in the nation as a whole” (11.6% in AK, 22.4% nationally) (Hunsinger 2013).  In another report, “New Americans in Alaska”, new immigrants and their children are characterized as “growing shares of Alaska’s population and electorate” (Immigration Policy Centre 2013). They report a growth of the Latino population in Alaska from 3.2% in 1990 to                                                 23 However, Chad Farrell told me in an email that one of the largest concentrations of people with Mexican ancestry here in Anchorage is on the Fort Richardson-Elmendorf base. He believes that this points to the role of institutions like the military in contributing to localized diversity (Farrell, personal communication 2014).  49  5.8% in 2011 (Immigration Policy Centre 2013). Of these, unauthorized immigrants made up less than 1.5% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (Passel and Cohn 2011). Of course, although the categories of Hispanic or Latino as a category are much broader than my study group of Acuitzences in Alaska, many of the findings in these reports are verifiable ethnographically. For example, I worked in Anchorage because I knew from previous research that most Acuitzences live in Alaska. In my research I did not find any geographic clustering of people of Mexican background within Anchorage. Most of the people I worked with were above the poverty level and were US citizens or residents.   In terms of migration and immigration and the composition of the Spanish-speaking community in the state, Alaska is unique. I believe the history of migration between Mexico and Alaska is also novel compared to elsewhere on the continent. Thus, transnational life in Alaska cannot be easily compared with transnational life in Southern California, or Oregon or other points “Outside.” Moreover, the Acuitzences that I work with are above poverty level and hold US citizenship or permanent residency. Although some characteristics will no doubt be similar, the contours of Mexican Alaska are therefore distinctive.   Routes Between  Above my desk as I write is a framed page of a book about Alaska, propped up on a shelf. It says: “As an engineering feat the Alaska Highway has been compared to the building of the Panama Canal. It stretches more than fifteen hundred miles from Dawson Creek, north of Edmonton in Canada, to Fairbanks, Alaska. Through virgin forests, over mountain passes, and across icy northern rivers the highway reaches through to connect Alaska with the main part of the continent. In only a little more than eight months after its beginning this great road was ready 50  for travel, though it was not yet finished.” Heroic narratives of conquering wilderness aside, routes like the Panama Canal, the Alaska Highway, transcontinental train tracks, and airports have fundamentally reorganized our experience of space and our perception of distance. With this in mind, I considered the routes between Mexico and Alaska to be important fieldsites as well. In conducting fieldwork along routes between Acuitzio and Anchorage, I conceptualize cultures as sites of both dwelling and travel (Clifford 1997:31). Throughout my fieldwork, I sought informal and formal tape-recorded descriptions of travel between Anchorage and Mexico in an attempt to “take travel knowledges seriously” (Clifford 1997:31). Inspired by Steve Striffler’s (2007) trip from Arkansas to Santo Domingo, Guanajuato with his research participants, I also traveled with the Bravo family by car, bus, and airplane, documenting our trip in fieldnotes and learning about how they experienced the trip. I intended to make similar trips with other research participants, but arranging the logistics proved difficult. I drove from Vancouver to Anchorage and from Anchorage to Edmonton with my partner Chris, our pets, and our 1997 Jeep Cherokee on the Glenn, Alaska, Cassiar, and Yellowhead Highways, documenting our experience of travel with photographs and fieldnotes.   Finally, travel between Mexico and Alaska requires crossing several international borders. Striffler (2007:684) crossed the US-Mexico border by car with his research participants driving back to Arkansas from Santo Domingo, and described the experience with the US customs official as follows:  “We are at the border. Carlos, Adolfo, and myself. We wait in line for over three hours. There is little traffic, but for most of the time we are not even moving. When we finally get to the border, the officer who checks our documents seems completely puzzled. “What was the purpose of your trip?” “Vacation,” I respond. 51  Still confused, he asks more bluntly: “What are you [a white American] doing with them?” “I went with them to their hometown. We live in Arkansas and are trying to get back.” “You were just on vacation with them.” “Correct.” He sends us to be searched. Tired, dirty, and stinking of last night’s fiesta, we empty the trunk and dump our stuff onto a couple of tables. The agent searching our belongings is in no hurry. It will be a long process. As we wait, Adolfo complains, “That fucking Chicano [border patrol agent]. He couldn’t believe a gringo was traveling with two Mexicans. That’s why he sent us over here to be searched [instead of waving us through]. (Laughing) We got stopped because you are a fucking gringo.”  Laughing, I say, “No, man, we got stopped because you two are Mexicans. Welcome home.” By crossing the border together, Striffler and his companions had broken the racially bounded notion of difference and separation that the border relies on and enforces (Striffler 2007). In interviews, I looked for similar experiences in asking people about crossing the US-Mexico and US-Canadian border, about the passports they used to cross, what kinds of questions they were usually asked, and if they had ever crossed without papers. I documented my own experiences crossing borders as well, taking fieldnotes and photographs where possible.   As it turns out, traveling between Mexico and Alaska gave me insights into the production of distance, specifically how places are experienced as far from one another because of the travel itineraries used to connect them. It also gave me a sense of how travel, even by air and with US passports, is never a free-moving flow. Inflected with friction, mobility is uneven, and is experienced as a series of stops, starts, slow moving line-ups, and moments of speed along smooth highways or air corridors.  52  Looking for Similarities  In interviews and casual conversations, Acuitzences in Alaska drew attention to the fact that the same people live in and move between these places and refer to the “tranquility” and “the nature” that are important parts of the sense of place in each, and the fact that both are considered small towns, relatively speaking.  People that I met in Anchorage who are part of the Spanish-speaking community there often said, “there are many people from Acuitzio here” or “almost everyone from Acutizio is in Anchorage.” People in Anchorage know of Acuitzio because there are so many Acuitzences there.24 In Acuitzio as well, people know about Anchorage. When I talked to Pascual in the plaza in Acuitzio he said, “Anchorage, we call it Anchorage del Canje,” and laughed. “Just, among ourselves, no? Anchorage del Canje, that’s how we know it.”   Indeed, Tomás talked about his decision to move to Alaska after working in California for many years,  “My sister was here, and she suggested that I come here, so I did. And I also have many friends here, I know many people from el pueblo here. People who have lived in Acuitzio and have lived here for many years. So I said, well, there will be people I know in Anchorage and it won’t be so difficult to live there, like it is when you don’t know anyone.”  This made it easy for him to adapt to life in Alaska, “It wasn’t difficult for me because I could adapt to whatever. I could accommodate whatever climatic, social, logistical change, everything.”    Laura talked about how much she likes it that there are so many people from Acuitzio,                                                  24 In Anchorage there are also large numbers of people and a long-term connection with communities in Jalisco and Zacatecas. Here I focus only on Acuitzio. 53  “Anchorage has many people from el pueblo living here. Wherever you go, you run into people you know from Acuitzio, I think that is what we like about it here.” After she said that, I talked about how people use the same words to talk about both places, that Anchorage and Acuitzio are both tranquilo and seguro, with lots of nature, mountains, and forests. Laura agreed, “Yes, yes it’s true. Maybe because of that we like it here because in one way we feel in the same place because all of Michoacán looks like Alaska!”   Serefina said something similar, when I asked her what she thought of Anchorage at first: “I always thought it was beautiful and interesting here in Alaska. I’m from, de provincia, you know, everything is more natural. Or like there is more contact with nature, eating things that are 100% natural. All of that is nicer, so when I came here, I saw all of the nature and I liked it a lot. And later well, when I arrived, the winter was ending and the days were nice and long and it didn’t seem so bad to me. In fact, even the snow seemed interesting to me because well, I had never seen snow. I thought it was really interesting and apart from that I was with my husband, and that’s the most important thing, no?”  Indeed, in Acuitzio in 2011 someone told me that the things that people appreciate most about Acuitzio are “the natural spring, the ice cream in the plaza, and the naturaleza.” Ernesto Calderón, Sr. also talked about how Anchorage and Morelia were similar in size when he worked in Anchorage decades ago: “When I worked there, Anchorage was a little city. And I remember that in 1978 there were about 150,000 inhabitants. Morelia was smaller then, too and they were very similar in size and in population.” Recall as well that in Chapter 3 when I described traveling to the airport with the Bravo family, Vero and Sophia said that they didn’t like Mexico City; they preferred smaller towns like Acuitzio, Morelia, or Anchorage. Leonardo Aldama described Anchorage like this: “It’s smaller here, life is more like it is in el pueblo.”  Jaime, one of the first men to go to Anchorage, and Pascual, who went there much later in the 2000s, also drew similarities between Michoacán and Alaska in terms of their love of outdoor 54  pursuits and their own adventurous personalities. Both of them climbed mountains and worked in natural areas in Mexico – Jaime worked in forestry, and Pascual has an ecotourism business. In Alaska as well, they continued these interests. Jaime worked as a field assistant for an Alaska Fish and Game biologist. Although Pascual’s father had worked in Alaska for many years, he didn’t want that kind of life for his son, so he didn’t arrange papers for Pascual to go to the United States. In fact, his father said, “It isn’t necessary. You have a house, school, family, clothes, food, everything. Everything that many people wish for, you have it here, for free.” Pascual replied, “OK, but I want to have something of my own, eh. I’m going to Alaska.”  “If you cross that doorway, it’s just you and the world”  Pascual said, “OK, I’m going to go. I am 18 years old and I’m going”.  His father said, “OK, fine, go. But don’t come back until you’ve become a man.” Pascual, was (and is) a mountaineer and outdoorsman who dreamt of climbing Denali,25 and went to Alaska on his own without papers and against his father’s wishes, seeking adventure and the ultimate wilderness experience. While there he washed dishes in a restaurant, and did whatever it took to have enough money to go camping, backpacking, and climbing on the weekends. He was sure to point out that he was different, that most people who go to Alaska are there to work for a better life, and a smaller percentage travel looking for adventure and new experiences. “I am one of those who went to Alaska and found my truth in its landscapes and mountains”. In fact, the state and the mountain he went there to climb meant so much to him, he named his daughter Denali. A photo of Jaime and other men from the first generation of men in                                                 25 Denali, also known as Mt. McKinley, is the highest mountain in North America. 55  Alaska cooking food after a hike sometime in the 1960s shows that they, too, engaged in outdoor pursuits.  My friend Ana said that life in Alaska got a lot more enjoyable once their family took up Alaskan activities like camping, mountain biking, and fishing. She said, “Until we got the motorhome, Sarita, summer was so boring!” They go camping every summer with a large group of Acuitzences and other friends, and Ana looks forward to grilling gorditas over the campfire. Many Acuitzences have taken up quintessentially Alaskan activities like salmon fishing, camping, mountain biking, and cross country skiing, as well as snowboarding and hiking.  People draw comparisons between Anchorage and Acuitzio all the time, describing both places as tranquil and natural. This is ironic because Alaska’s status as extremely separate and disconnected from elsewhere is partly due to its imaginary as a wilderness state. However, for Acuitzences, this wilderness status makes it more like the uplands of Michoacán where Acuitzio is located, an area that is also highly valued for its forests, rivers, and mountains. Acuitzio is known for having lots of water, and is the source of natural springs. The forests around Acuitzio, though managed for forestry, and increasingly logged and replaced with avocado orchards, are also part of this natural environment. Describing Acuitzio as “tranquil” is also interesting, considering the fact that Michoacán in general is associated violence related to the drug cartels and autodefensa groups that have proliferated in the state. In fact, the forests are said to have helped the cartels, hiding their activities from authorities. Nevertheless, people draw comparisons between Anchorage and Acuitzio in these terms, collapsing the sense of spatial and social distance between them.  56  Methodological Practice in Transnational Space I conducted ethnographic fieldwork for my MA thesis project in both Anchorage and Acuitzio from July to December 2005 (Komarnisky 2006). My project was focused on food, and tracing the food-related connections between Anchorage and Acuitzio. In Anchorage, I met my first contact from Acuitzio at the Latino Festival in downtown Anchorage, and by the time I left for Acuitzio in November, I had completed multiple interviews, learned to cook tamales and atole and chicken with mole, and made friends that I would see that winter in Acuitzio, and remain in contact with. I also documented my arrival in Acuitzio in November of 2005:  Walking down the street towards the plaza, at first everything seems unfamiliar. Red and white buildings line the streets, narrow sidewalks, open doors open onto darkened stores…a stationary shop, a bakery, a grocery store, a butcher shop with a carcass hanging out front. I hear someone calling my name, “Sarita, Sarita, qué tal? Cuándo llegaste?”(Sara, Sara how are you?  When did you arrive?) It’s Antonio who I met in Alaska! (Komarnisky 2006:31) I returned to Acuitzio for informal visits after 2005, and in June 2011 I arrived there to begin a year of PhD fieldwork with Acuitzences who live between Mexico and Alaska. I began in Mexico because I knew from previous research that most Acuitzences who live in Anchorage or elsewhere in the United States who are able to travel back to Acuitzio regularly do so over the summer months or in December (Komarnisky 2006). I arranged to stay with the Bravo family, who was in Acuitzio that summer, and planned to travel back with them by airplane. When I arrived in Acuitzio, I realized that another friend and research contact was there for the summer and I was able to stay with her occasionally as well. Living with Acuitzences who came back to Acuitzio for the summer gave me the chance to interact informally with people who live between Mexico and Alaska, participate in their daily activities in their hometown, meet their extended family, and sometimes ask questions specifically relating to my project outside of a formal 57  interview. With research contacts in Acuitzio, I went shopping, visited family members and friends, ate tacos, hamburgers, and ice cream in the plaza, traveled to nearby towns and waterparks, went to bailes, comidas, and fiestas, visited family ranchos and avocado farms, went to school end-of year clausura ceremony, mass, and student performances, and spent time at home doing laundry, cleaning up, preparing food, eating, watching TV, or talking. I also participated in the preparations for Sofia Bravo’s quinceañera, which was held that summer. Many of the guests were also from Alaska, and in addition to making decorations for the party, I also gathered information about where the guests were from, who the madrinas and padrinos were, and attended the party myself (Appendix A). Finally, to trace the material dimensions of transnationality in Acuitzio, I documented items that had traveled from Alaska to Acuitzio. Sometimes it was an automobile with Alaska license plates; other times it was a magnet, displayed on a refrigerator (Appendix B). All of these experiences were documented in my daily fieldnotes.  In Acuitzio, I also sought out new contacts who had lived or worked in Alaska, and conducted 12 interviews with nine individuals. Three of these interviewees were older male members of the first generation of Acuitzences to go to Alaska, and I conducted life history interviews in Spanish focused on their experiences in Alaska with them (Appendix C.1). Five interviewees were individuals who had lived, worked in, or traveled to Alaska in the past, but who had since moved back to Acuitzio. The remaining interview was with a family member of someone who currently lives in Alaska. Before each interview, I used a standardized questionnaire to collect consistent demographic, travel, and family network information for each individual (Appendix C.3). 58   While in Mexico I was a visiting student at the Colegio de Michoacán, under the supervision of Dra. Gail Mummert. I had the opportunity to visit ColMich in Zamora, and meet other anthropologists there. I was also able to access their library to research Acuitzio, and access books about the town that are not readily available in Canada (Arenas García 1988; Garibay Sotelo 1980; Tapia 1945).  In August of 2011, I returned to Vancouver and drove from there to Anchorage via the Cassiar Highway meeting up with the Alaska Highway in Watson Lake. I lived in Anchorage from August 2011 until July 2012 before driving back to Edmonton, Alberta, where I have resided since. Although I lived in my own apartment in Anchorage, I drew on contacts made since 2005 and was able to continue to interact informally with people from Acuitzio in Alaska in their homes, at restaurants, at church services, at movies, shopping, camping, and at special events, like baby showers, baptisms, and birthday parties. I also conducted 28 recorded interviews with 31 Acuitzences in Alaska in both English and Spanish, again using a standardized questionnaire to collect consistent information about each participant (Appendix C.2). These interviews were open-ended, beginning with the question: “Tell me how you came to live in Alaska.” From there, I would also ask about trips between Anchorage and Acuitzio, things that people travel with between these two places, where the interviewee feels most at home, and where they imagine their future to be, among other topics (Appendix C.1). With 14 participants, I also collected information on the Acuitzence network in Anchorage. Using a network form (Appendix C.3), I asked these people to list other Acuitzences they knew in Anchorage, as well as their relationship to them (family, compadres, friends, or acquaintances).  During fieldwork in Acuitzio and Anchorage, travel was a popular topic of conversation: what airlines are best, what routes are good, what airports are preferable for flying into, what the 59  drive from Alaska is like, and so on. I organized my research to be able to elicit travel stories as well as experience the rigours of travel myself.  In Anchorage, I also conducted research at events and locations that explicitly brought together Mexico and Alaska, including restaurants (those that served Mexican food or were owned by people of Mexican background, or both), specialty grocery stores, Spanish-language church services, special events (Mexican Independence Day, Day of the Dead, Hispanic Heritage Month, 5 de Mayo celebrations, Government Hill School Spring Cultural Festival), and at the practices and performances of the Mexican dance and culture group Xochiquetzal-Tiqun. I collected pamphlets, newspaper stories, posters, and other forms of information at these events. As well, some of my research contacts were interested in practicing and improving their English-language abilities and I coordinated weekly lessons focused on conversational English for Spanish-speakers, with a theme and activity to guide the learning and conversation.   I interviewed community leaders in Anchorage, including Ana Gutiérrez-Scholl and Ana Del Real who co-direct Xochiquetzal-Tiqun, the president of the Acuitzio Migrant Club in Alaska, the Mexican Consul in Anchorage, Javier Abud Osuna, Daniel Esparza, community organizer and host of Latinos in Alaska, as well as a Spanish teacher, a lawyer with the Alaska Immigration Justice Project, a staff member with Catholic Social Services who works in refugee resettlement in Anchorage, a bilingual mortgage broker, a city councilor, and a staff member at Telemundo Alaska. These interviews focused more on specific organizations relating to the Mexican experience in Alaska. In total, throughout the course of my fieldwork in both Acuitzio and Anchorage, I interviewed 55 people in both English and Spanish. I also gained permission from 13 contacts that I interviewed during my MA thesis research in 2005 to re-analyze their 60  interviews. Information on citizenship, time spent in Alaska, age, marital status, family size, occupation, and education of all interviewees from Acuitzio is presented in Appendix D.   Finally, I conducted archival research at the United States National Archives – Alaska Pacific Region, located in downtown Anchorage. I reviewed naturalization documents and court cases from 1900-1960 for bureaucratic traces of Mexicans in Alaska before 1950. I also hired a research assistant to review and collect information from naturalization documents and mining company employment records from the same time period at the Alaska State Archives in Juneau, Alaska.   Throughout my time in Anchorage in 2011-2012, I was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) sponsored by Dr. Marie Lowe. At ISER I had the opportunity to interact with Alaskan academics and policy researchers, attend colloquia about social and economic policy in Alaska, and present the initial findings of my research.  There are a number of short research trips that also inform this research, but that fall outside of the period of dissertation fieldwork in 2011-2012. I visited Anchorage in August 2010 to interview Maria Elena Ball and Bart Roberts about the “Mexico in Alaska” postcards I analyze in Chapter 6. The postcards were exhibited and discussed at the Liu Institute at the University of British Columbia in April 2011. I visited Winnipeg in March 2011 to gather information from Dr. Raymond Wiest about his long-term research in Acuitzio (1966-2006). Finally, after interviewing Gonzalo Calderón by telephone in Anchorage in 2011, I visited him and his family in Long Beach, California in November 2012 to learn more about his adventures in Alaska.  Interviews were conducted in Spanish, English, or both, depending on the preference of the interviewee. Fieldnotes were written in English, with some Spanish phrases. During analysis, 61  interviews were transcribed in their original language, and if necessary, translated during chapter revisions. All errors of transcription and translation are therefore mine. My approach to analysis has been driven by the theories of space, place and transnationality outlined in the introduction. As I reviewed my data, I looked for experiences of movement and control of movement between Mexico and Alaska, experiences of how people describe Alaska as separate but connected, and experiences of belonging or feeling out-of-place. I analyzed life history interviews in terms of documenting the history of the connection between Mexico and Alaska in order to examine how Alaska and Mexico have historically been produced as very separate spaces even as they have been connected by the mobility of labour migrants. I also approached interviews as family histories of migration, and analyzed them in order to understand how family relationships and life events shape attachments to places of origin and new homelands (Olwig 2007).  Over the course of my graduate studies, I, too, have developed multiple spatial attachments in Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, as well as in Alaska and Michoacán. Since 2005 I have maintained contact with friends and research participants in both Acuitzio and Anchorage by telephone, text message, social media, and mail, and have visited both Acuitzio and Anchorage on multiple occasions. I also travel back and forth between Mexico, Alaska, and wherever I live the rest of the time. Friends in both Acuitzio and Anchorage always ask me “When are you coming back, Sarita?” and the answer is always “Hopefully soon.”  I also find similarities between the changing rural life I knew in Alberta and the one I was learning about in Michoacán. My family came to Canada as immigrants from Galicia (then part of the Austrian empire, now part of the nation-state of Ukraine), Ireland, and Italy, four generations ago, and I also grew up in a rural area where many people could trace their common 62  kinship relations, nearly the entire town participated in celebrating weddings, baptisms, and funerals, and many farms still practiced some form of subsistence agriculture. My grandmother’s first language was Ukrainian, and my father speaks it as well. We have rural accents and we celebrate special occasions with our own traditional foods, symbols, and songs. Calling myself Ukrainian in Canada references a location, history, and a set of cultural practices that are Ukrainian but were never tied to a Ukrainian nation state. When my ancestors came to Canada, being Ukrainian referenced a nation without a state, as ethnic Ukrainians had been under Polish, Russian, and Austrian rule until the Ukrainian state was created after World War 2. Ukraine was later taken over by the Soviet Union, and even today there is a war over territory between Ukraine and Russia. Calling myself Ukrainian in Canada references a kind of national identity not tied to a nation state, similar perhaps to other transnational identity formations.  Over my own lifetime, I saw small scale farmers like my parents struggle to make ends meet, taking up other jobs in larger communities to supplement income from farming. I now realize that rural life everywhere has suffered in the face of neoliberal global capitalism, worldwide urbanization, and large scale farming as both rural Alberta family farms and Mexican livestock operations struggle to turn a profit. Employment and postsecondary education opportunities are limited in small communities. Similarly, reterritorializing across socio-spatial distance is challenging, whether from Europe to Canada in the 1800s or from Mexico to Alaska in the 1950s. I realize now that how a socio-spatial connection is maintained across generations depends on family, community, and global circumstances, especially the ability to travel back and forth regularly.  Based on the data I had collected, the theoretical frameworks I had studied, and my own positionality as a white Ukrainian and Canadian academic, I began writing almost as soon as I 63  finished fieldwork, drafting initial chapters as I transcribed interviews and organized my data. I began writing narratives based on my fieldwork that evoked the transnational processes that I saw in everyday life in Anchorage and Acuitzio. Next, I began to structure draft chapters around narratives of mobility, of family networks, of the citizenship process, and of traveling roosters that I had crafted. Over multiple revisions, I analyzed the processes evoked by each narrative, incorporating information from the literature, supporting statements from interviews and fieldnotes, and ethnographic details. The chapters that follow are the end result of that process.  Conclusion  In this chapter I have outlined the multi-sited approach to ethnographic research that I took in the design of the fieldwork for this project and detailed the specific methods and sources of data that I draw upon throughout this dissertation. I introduced both Acuitzio and Anchorage as fieldsites, and described their populations, histories, and unique characteristics. I also described what I mean by “Mexican Alaska” and gave information about the characteristics of that spatial formation. All of this is important background information to the chapters that follow. In Chapter 3, I write about mobility between Mexico and Alaska in terms of friction. No mobility flows evenly, frictions of distance, difference, and terrain inflect human mobility across space. I draw on data from fieldnotes, interviews, and a letter that I received in the mail to analyze travel by air, across borders, and along highways.    64  Chapter 3: The Annual Migration of the Traveling Swallows – Friction, Distance, and Transnational Mobility  During the summer of 2011, I lived with Juana, Luis, and their children in their Acuitzio home, a two-story yellow house located about three blocks away from the plaza. Juana and the kids lived there when Luis was commuting back and forth to Alaska. Now, the whole family lives in Anchorage for most of the year, and travels to Mexico every summer. I was with them on one of those summer trips. The walls in the kitchen and sitting area in their home in Acuitzio are decorated with framed photos from Alaska: Denali Mountain, the northern lights illuminating the Anchorage cityscape, sled dogs running the Iditarod Race, and a poster commemorating the 50th anniversary of Alaska Statehood in 2009. One day I arrived back at the house after an interview to find that a television, benches, and chairs had been moved into the patio to watch the Mexico soccer team play in the Under-17 World Cup. Juana and Luis, Juana’s parents, and two of Juana’s brothers and their families were all there to watch the game. I sat next to Luis, and he handed me a cold beer. I took a sip, and then noticed that my chair was under a bird’s nest. I moved over a little. Living in a house arranged around an open-air patio, typical of many homes in Mexico, means that birds frequently come in and out of the living area, and some build nests around the patio. Luis saw me move my chair over, and glanced up at the bird’s nest. The nest was small, made of a clay-like substance molded onto the wall just where it meets the ceiling, and birds flew frequently to and from these nests.  65  Luis said, gesturing towards the nest, “I don’t want to kick them out because they come from so far away.”  “Really?” I said. He went on to tell me that they are called golondrinas, or swallows, and they come to Mexico for the winter from as far away as Alaska. He said they come every year at the beginning of the rainy season: “They come to raise their children, and then they go.”26  “Do the same ones come back every year?” I asked. He said, “I think one of them is the same, but who knows”. Juana pointed out the other nests around the house. There is a nest upstairs, and another one in the back, and another over the truck, in addition to the one right over our heads. She said “other houses don’t have them because many people break their nests and kick them out, even though they use a special soil so their nests are really durable.” Luis said, “They say if a child doesn’t want to talk, you take a swallow and get it to kiss the child. With Juana, they did this with 10 swallows!” Everyone laughed, knowing that Juana is a bit of a chatterbox, while she gave her husband a sideways look and a loving swat on the arm. Juana’s mother said, “They used to say that in the old days, but who knows.” Luis said, “Sarita, there’s even a song called Golondrinas Viajeras, from a TV show”.  Later, I looked up the song Golondrinas Viajeras, or Traveling Swallows. It was performed as a duet by Lucero and Joan Sebastián for the title sequence of a telenovela called Soy Tu Dueña.27 This is the first part of the song, with the chorus at the end:                                                   26 Vienen a criar y se van. 27 The television show is not at all about labour migration or immigration to the United States, in fact it is a soap opera that centers on the dramatic love life of a wealthy and beautiful woman from Mexico City. In that sense, the song may be read as overcoming adversity to find true love. However, the lyrics also highlight the mobility of the swallow, its crossing of borders and seas and storms over long distances looking for a place to nest, to rest.  66  We cross borders And oceans The two of us faced adversity We challenged a thousand storms  To live  A song We arrive with tired wings With wings tired of flying Over mountains, valleys, and glens But eager To sing  Traveling swallows We will not rest Longing for an illusion  But always looking for somewhere to nest28   Like Juana and her family, many Acuitzences move regularly across the continent, from their hometown in Acuitzio del Canje, Michoacán, to their current home in Anchorage, Alaska. Like swallows, their movement transcends geopolitical borders in many ways, creating a social space that connects these two distant locales. For the swallows, we tend to call the spatial formation within which they move a “habitat.” For the migrant-immigrant, scholars have called the transnational social space produced through movement “the transnational migrant circuit” (Rouse 2002), a “transnational community” (Striffler 2007), the “articulatory migrant network” (Kearney 2004), a “transnational conjectural space” (De Genova 2005), or as involving “transborder lives” (Stephen 2007). For these migrant-immigrants, travel is essential to their way of being in the world, and the way they move about within, understand, and produce spaces through interconnection. This is traveling-as-placemaking. And that Juana and her family felt an                                                 28 Cruzamos las fronteras /y los mares /enfrentamos los dos/la adversidad/desafiamos también mil tempestades /para poder vivir /un madrigal /llegamos con las alas ya cansadas /con las alas cansadas de volar /por montañas, por valle y cañadas /pero con muchas ganas /de cantar (CORO) Golondrinas viajeras /vamos sin descanzar /añorando quimeras /pero buscando siempre donde anidar 67  affective connection with those golondrinas that, like them, moved back and forth across vast distances and international borders reveals how traveling has become central to their identity. By travelling-as-placemaking, I mean to highlight both the way that places are produced through connections made with elsewheres and how mobility constitutes an important part of that placemaking process. This chapter explores the materiality of this mobility along snow-covered highways in Alaska and Canada, in airports and airplane cabins, and up steep roads into the mountains of rural Mexico. Along the way, Acuitzences encounter what Anna Tsing (2005) has called “frictions” that inflect their mobility, giving it form and meaning. These frictions can also provide traction, allowing mobility between Anchorage and Acuitzio to continue over time but in some cases also creating obstacles to mobility. I analyze the mobilities of Acuitzences in terms of their engagement with social, geographical, and imaginative landscapes. Along the way I theorize the production of sociospatial distance between Anchorage and Acuitzio. On the one hand, distance between these two locations is socially produced. However, distance is also a fact of terrain across the 8000 kilometres between Anchorage and Acuitzio. The materiality of this distance over mountains, across rivers, through cities, along highways and between airports cannot be exhausted by how it is socially appropriated or politically controlled (Gordillo 2013). Alaska and Mexico are seen as socially distant, experienced as locations where people live very differently, within different nation-states. However, Alaska and Mexico are also geographically distant, far away from each other across the surface of the earth. Even though corridors of travel have been constructed between these two points, facilitating rapid mobility between them, Alaska and Mexico are still experienced as spatially distant from one another. These two forms of distance are entangled with one another, so that people experience distance as both social and spatial. Even in an era of 68  globalization, the experience of sociospatial distance remains important when considering how the people who traverse long distances perceive how mobility shapes placemaking.  This chapter is divided into three sections, each of which analyzes different forms of mobility between Anchorage and Acuitzio: air travel, border crossing, and land travel along highways. Attention to friction means attention to interaction, to the materiality of travel, the engagement between the traveler and the route and mode of travel. I analyze experiences of travel along specific routes, specifically, the Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the Alaska Highway, and the roads from Morelia to Acuitzio. These routes reorganize the landscape and the mobilities that move along them. The construction of highways and airports, likewise, significantly change experiences of a place as well as mobility to, from, and within it. Routes are pathways or corridors that make motion easier and more efficient, but they are also a structure of confinement, limiting other potential routes (Tsing 2005:6).  Studies of mobility between Mexico and the United States typically focus on the US-Mexico border region, and particularly on the vast stretches of desert that most illegal migrants cross by foot. However, the lines of mobility that connect the United States and Mexico also include ports of entry along highways (Striffler 2007), airline routes, and even ferry crossings at points on corridors that stretch all the way to Alaska. As well, the border itself and practices of boundary enforcement have been spatially dispersed to airports, checkpoints, and workplaces throughout the United States (Stephen 2007). In this chapter, I trace the mobilities of Acuitzences along corridors that extend well past the physical geography of the Mexico-US border, to include airports and highways at different locations between Acuitzio and Anchorage, some of them located in Canada. 69  Although transnationality depends on mobility, the intricacies of transnational mobilities are not often explored in detail. In this chapter, I contribute ethnographic analysis of mobility for Mexican-US transnationality, mobility that extends past the border region and throughout the continent on flight routes, highways, and across borders. Even when mobile Acuitzences are dual Mexico-US citizens, their mobility is not fluid or flow-like. It is inflected by moments of friction based on who is travelling, the mode of travel, and the interaction of the traveller with the terrain. I analyze the friction of distance as a major component of mobility between Acuitzio and Anchorage. Moreover, I illustrate the paradox of mobility whereby citizenship, as a process and status that intends to fix people to place and tie them to a particular nation state, facilitates mobility or even requires it as a matter of bureaucratic process. As such, for many Acuitzences, the potential to move is always there, and as I will show in later chapters, mobility is required for producing a sense of belonging in both Acuitzio and Anchorage. The back and forth trip, la vuelta, is essential for the production of a social space extending from Mexico to Alaska and for the creation of a sense of belonging based on multiple points. This, then, is travelling-as-placemaking: the production of time-space that requires repeated trips, voyages, movements, vueltas. In the pages that follow, I explore traveling-as-placemaking by air, across borders, and by road.  Frictions of Distance By choosing to use the term “friction” to refer to the effects of sociospatial distance that people experience as they move between Michoacán and Alaska, I draw upon work by anthropologist Anna Tsing who has proposed this concept to study globalization. More specifically, she explains how aspirations for global connection come to life in friction which she 70  defines as “the grip of worldly encounter” or the awkward, unequal, unstable, creative qualities of interconnection across difference (Tsing 2005). For her, studying the “productive friction of global connections” means emphasizing the unexpected and unstable aspects of global interaction, realizing that cultures are continually co-produced in these interactions of friction. She also highlights the importance of interaction in defining movement, cultural form, and agency along pathways, when encountering barriers, and in the production of exclusions or facilitations (Tsing 2005:6). Her work is thus an ethnographic account of global interconnection and she shows how forces that are often treated as abstractions like capitalism, science, and politics depend on global connections and spread through aspirations to fulfill universal dreams and schemes. These universals can only be charged and enacted in the sticky materiality of practical encounters. Tsing’s concept of friction allows her to get at how the local and the global are continually co-produced and co-implicated in one another. In this chapter, I analyze the friction of sociospatial distance created through travels between Acuitzio and Anchorage.  Sociospatial distance shapes and guides mobilities. Perceptions of distance are always socially produced, and are always experienced as relational: one location is perceived as “distant” only in relation to another location. In fact, Alaska is often imagined as an exceptionally separate space, a wilderness land or Last Frontier located far away and physically disconnected from the rest of the United States (Willis 2010; Kollin 2001). My research participants expressed their own experiences of distance, saying things like “we’re so far away”, or “we’ve thought about moving closer to Mexico.” Juana Bravo talked about arriving in Alaska, and feeling so far away from her family in Acuitzio: “When we arrived, my children were happy, but I felt somewhere between happy and sad. Sad because I left my family and I didn’t know when I would be able to go back there. And then, it’s so far away. So 71  far away.” Juana’s sister-in-law Gloria also related how hard it is to be so far away from family and that sometimes her family talks about moving closer to Mexico, “Sometimes we want to move a little closer to Mexico, to the Lower 48.” She continued explaining some of the frictions encountered when traveling to Acuitzio from Anchorage by air:  “It frustrates you, because we’re so far away and there are only one or two departures per day. From Anchorage you go to Seattle or Dallas or another airport like Houston or Los Angeles. But almost always Seattle or Salt Lake City first, and then to Mexico, to Guadalajara. But now that we fly a lot with Alaska Airlines it’s Seattle, Los Angeles and then Guadalajara. Or to Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo, Guerrero, which is a beach resort on the Pacific Ocean. It’s four hours from Acuitzio now that they’ve opened the toll highway. It’s easy, but also it’s a little complicated because you can bring fewer suitcases leaving from Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo. You can only bring one suitcase or something like that. From Guadalajara, since it isn’t the beach, you can bring two suitcases.”  First, it is worth noting that the distance involved in air travel evokes a whole constellation of towns and airports scattered along several regions of the United States and Mexico, which create multiple options for mobility. But she also explained that when there is a family emergency, such as when her parents in Mexico were very ill, this distance is felt as especially frustrating.  “Among families who are very close, if something happens, or someone passes away, at that point you are so far away and all you want to do is fly there right then. But, if it happens over Spring Break, or over Christmas or any holiday, there are no flights out of Anchorage. You cannot move as you want to.29 There are good things here in Alaska but we have suffered too.”  Geographical, economic, institutional, and temporal factors (such as the time of the year) make it so that Gloria cannot move as freely she wants to, potentially spatially disconnecting her from important events across the life course and creating the sense that she is, indeed, “very far” from loved ones still living in Mexico.                                                  29 No puedes trasladarte como tu quisieras. 72  Distance is also an index for difference. In Anchorage, people say they feel far away from Mexico not only spatially but also culturally. As Gloria Bravo put it: “It makes it hard because when you are so far away you become disconnected from your roots, and the nostalgia, like on the 15th of September, the fiestas in Mexico. You know, Sarita, you’ve seen how they are. Mariachis, all of that. And here you are, so far away, ay. You get nostalgic, no?”  In addition to being an index of difference, the distance between Anchorage and Acuitzio is thus also a fact of the vast terrain of the North American continent stretching between the two places. The distance made material in the actual terrain is a major consideration when talking about travel by road between Anchorage and Acuitzio, located 8,000 kilometres apart and separated by a vast expanse of desert, urban, forested, and mountainous terrain and three international borders involving Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Even if one drives every day, for 24 hours per day, the trip would take at least eight days, not including essential stops along the way for sleep, food, or fuel, or the need to slow down due to the contours of the landscape as the road traverses sharp folds or is diverted around features of the terrain. It also does not include weather, and the possibility of animals on the road, traffic, a landslide, road construction or other obstacles that one might encounter along the way. Additionally, travel by land involves stops at border crossings between the United States and Canada and the United States and Mexico.  There are limited routes available into or out of Alaska by road, air, or water, for non-cargo movements into and out of the state. By road, you may cross the border into Alaska from Yukon Territory, Canada year-round at Beaver Creek or during the summer months at the Top of the World crossing between Chicken, Alaska, and Dawson City, Yukon (Canada). You can access the “panhandle” of South Eastern Alaska along the Pacific coast at Haines or Hyder year 73  round from British Columbia (Canada) and at Skagway in the summertime. But from there, you cannot access the rest of the state by road. By boat, you can travel north into Alaska along the inside passage by the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system, on a cruise ship, or in your own craft. Better yet, send your car by commercial barge from the Port of Anchorage and fly from Anchorage to Seattle to pick up the car and drive to Mexico from there.30  People argue that the benefit of driving the whole way between Anchorage and Acuitzio is that you can bring more things with you. An additional benefit is that one can arrive in Mexico in a car with Alaska plates. Not only are automobiles cheaper in the United States than in Mexico, but having Alaska license plates has its own prestige. In Acuitzio, you can see license plates from all over the United States, but owners of vehicles with Alaska plates are particularly proud of their navy-blue-on-yellow plates, with the Alaska flag depicting the big dipper and north star.  There are no direct passenger flights between Alaska and any airport in Mexico, so flights are usually expensive, and always time consuming. Travel between Anchorage and Acuitzio by plane generally takes all day, since you have to stop in Seattle or Los Angeles (or both), and then arrange a ride with family or friends or take a bus or taxi from Guadalajara or Mexico City, or less preferably, Morelia. Ferries do link Whittier, Alaska to points further south, but these are expensive, and seasonal.                                                       30 In fact, some Acuitzences have done this.  74   Figure 3: Air and Road Routes Between Mexico and Anchorage, AK. Map by Paul Hackett. 75  More than geographical distance in terms of a Cartesian rendering of number of kilometres between points on a map, people also experience distance in terms of the time it takes to travel, the modes of travel available, as well as the cost. David Harvey (1990) uses the term of “time-space compression” to refer to how technologies of travel have compressed spatial barriers like distance. He means that the Internet or intercontinental airline travel make the world feel smaller. However, it is clear that time-space compression is not evenly experienced. Not all points on the globe are experienced as uniformly ‘close’ or ‘distant’ to one another (see also Gordillo 2014). For example, although people from Acuitzio move within a social field that links Alaska and Mexico, these two locations are still experienced as distant. Distance, then, is always social. It is possible for two locations that are distant in abstract space, as represented on a map, to be experienced as close to one another. It also depends on who is experiencing distance. New York and London, for example, which have daily flights between them, and linked markets and elite lifestyles may be experienced as close for the wealthy socialite who travels between them. On the other hand, two locations located very near to each other may be experienced as different worlds, like East Harlem and the Upper East Side (Bourgois 2003). More to the point here, that people live in the same transnational social field that extends between Acuitzio and Anchorage means that these locations are in some ways experienced as close to one another. However, they are also felt to be far away, and distant from one another.  Due to the power-geometry of mobility (Massey 1994), some social groups and things move much more easily between Alaska and Mexico than others. Among Acuitzences moving between Michoacán and Alaska, immigration status as defined by US Citizenship and Immigration, social class and standing in the community in both Anchorage and Acuitzio, and gender and position in a multigenerational family network are all factors that can smooth out the 76  trip, making it easier to move. Moreover, some people travel faster than others along more direct corridors. Workers in northern oil fields or coastal salmon canneries arrive and travel through the state on charter flights, and thus move more quickly. Alaska’s ports are also very busy, shipping consumer goods into Anchorage and beyond. Semi trucks regularly drive the Alaska Highway bringing cargo into the state. Wal-Mart for instance supplies its eight Alaska stores by truck, and when mudslides washed out portions of the Alaska Highway in spring 2012, Wal-Mart stores in Anchorage were out of produce. As well, Anchorage-area grocery stores receive shipments at the Port of Anchorage on a particular day of the week, and stores may run low on particular items, say apples, until the following week. All of this is to say that frictions between Alaska and ‘Outside’ are not evenly produced nor experienced for Acuitzences who move between Mexico and Alaska or for other kinds of mobile agents that move into or through Alaska. The production of sociospatial distance is therefore key to understanding mobility between Anchorage and Acuitzio. Any moving object will always encounter friction from the surface it interacts with, and over long distances it may slow or stop. As well, the social status of what is moving and the technology available to it influences how smooth the trip will be. The point is, there is no totally smooth space. Striations constantly cross cut the smoothness and although corridors might facilitate movement, and minimize friction, this productive friction-in-movement still exists. In fact, friction is necessary for mobility. You need the grip of encounter to move and gain traction to keep moving. Friction also inflects the speed of travel, the frequency of trips, the corridors by which people move, and the affective experience of the trip.   77      Figure 4: Air Crossroads of the World, Downtown Anchorage, 2012. Photo by Author. 78  Air Crossroads of the World   On Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage, amidst hot dog vendors and souvenir stores, is the Old Log Cabin, one of Anchorage’s oldest buildings, now converted into a visitor’s centre. In front stands a post with arrows pointing in all directions, noting distances to cities like New York, London, San Francisco, and Seattle, in addition to points within Alaska like Nome, Fairbanks, and Valdez. On the top, a sign proclaims: “Anchorage: Air Crossroads of the World.” Indeed, air travel has been essential for traveling to and within Alaska, opening up the state to new residents, workers, and capital. Located within or very near to the city are Ted Stevens International Airport, Lake Hood float plane airport, Elmendorf Air Force Base, as well as two smaller airfields: Merrill Field and Campbell Airstrip. By air, Anchorage is roughly equidistant from Europe and Asia, making it a strategic location for international air commerce. In fact, its airport is one of the busiest in the world, not from commercial passenger flights, but due to freight traffic to and from Asia.31 The globe has a smaller circumference near the poles, so the distance of a flight from Asia to Alaska is much less then a flight that travels around the wider parts of the globe. Consumer goods are routed from points in Asia, through Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, then to points in the Lower 48 states. Fed Ex and UPS each have major warehouses at the Anchorage airport. When the weather is good, the sky buzzes with smaller airplanes that service vast parts of Alaska which are not easily accessible by road or water, locations that can be reached faster by air.  Air travel is certainly the main means by which Acuitzences move back and forth between Alaska and Mexico. Air travel is also the travel technology most associated with time-                                                31 In fact, in 2013, Airports Council International reported that Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage was the 6th busiest airport in the world for cargo traffic. It did not rank in the top 30 for passenger traffic (ACI 2014).  79  space compression and he acceleration of the global flow of people, things, and ideas (Harvey 1990). In the 1990s, globalization theory focused on flows and frictionless motion (e.g. Appadurai 1990, 1996a, 1996b) and implied that everyone would have the freedom to travel everywhere (Tsing 2005:5). Stuart Rockefeller critiques this use of the idea of “flow” in anthropology, pointing out that, as an image of agentless movement with no starting point and no telos, it can elide agency and privilege the large scale over the small. For him, the most distinctive thing about the keyword is the way it tends to privilege a form of unbroken, agentless movement and implies a disconnection from place or movement (Rockefeller 2011). It takes the reproduction of fixed space like airports, roads, or train tracks to “annihilate space through time” (Harvey 1990). So, it is possible to move faster, but only along particular corridors (Virilio 2006). Travel also involves more than just the infrastructure of travel: “How we run depends on what shoes we have to run in” (Tsing 2005:5). Security lineups, insufficient funds, late planes, and informal lines of segregation all slow down movement and produce a sense of distance; highways, airline routes, and railway tracks expedite travel but confine trajectories within fixed corridors. People may be coerced to move, take up mobility out of necessity, or are brought along with their parents. In other words, even when travelling by air, there is no agentless flow, and in this section I analyze how this is the case involving people who fly back and forth between Mexico and Alaska.  In August of 2011, I traveled with the Bravo family from Acuitzio to Morelia by car, from Morelia to Mexico City by bus, and from Mexico City to Los Angeles and Seattle by airplane. In the remainder of this section, I reconstruct our trip from my field notes to illustrate that even air travel, the smoothest and fastest form of travel available today, is inflected with 80  friction. Along our way, my travel companions and I experienced stops and starts, we moved faster and slower, and at times our mobility stopped completely.  From Morelia to Mexico City to Los Angeles to Seattle On the night before Juana, Vero, Sophia, and I left Mexico, we were trying to figure out how to get to the airport in Mexico City. We had already traveled from Acuitzio to Morelia with Juana’s brother by car, from Morelia to Mexico City by bus, and then to Juana’s sister’s place with another brother in his van. Juana and her sisters were debating what we should do in terms of getting to the airport. Should we take two taxis? No, it’s not safe to split up, they said. An airport van? Maybe we should find someone to take us, the neighbor perhaps? Juana went to ask him and he said he’d be happy to. But he was drinking, so he might forget by tomorrow afternoon. He asked Juana where we were going, and when she said “Alaska,” he asked her to bring him “a penguin.” “But there aren’t any penguins there,” Juana said, laughing.  “OK, a bear skin rug, then,” said the neighbor.  Everyone laughed then and each time the story was re-told for those who missed it.  In the morning, Juana was re-packing her suitcase, arranging clothing, food, and souvenirs so that each bag would not be too heavy, and so that fragile items like bread wouldn’t get squished. She called her sister who lives across the street to ask if she knew anyone who could give us a ride. She didn’t, so Juana called the airport taxi and since it was less costly than she’d expected, she made a reservation for it to pick us up at 1pm. The van would be safe and would have enough space for the four of us and our suitcases. Concerns about crime and security in a huge city such as Mexico City were certainly factors shaping their decisions on how to move, and by what means. 81  With that part of our journey planned, Juana, her sister, and I went to get tamales from a street vendor nearby. “You don’t see this over there, do you?” Juana’s sister said, as she kicked a piece of garbage,  “There’s garbage and dog shit everywhere here.”  Juana explained how “there,” often used as shorthand for “Alaska”, dogs go out only with their owners and their owners pick up after them. Moreover, dogs are not allowed alone in the street. Her sister marveled at how clean Anchorage must be. However, it’s all about perception. I know that if Juana’s sister visited Anchorage as the snow is melting she would see plenty of garbage. Meanwhile, in Mexico, I saw most people sweep the sidewalks in front of their home and business every morning. Already in our preparations to leave for the airport there is a sense of the difference between “here” and “there,” the bumps and irregularities of movement, the frictions that condition and direct our movement.  We purchased the tamales, prepared Oaxacan style, with the corn dough and filling wrapped in banana leaves instead of the cornhusks usually used to make tamales in Acuitzio. Juana said, “Sarita, we will make these in Alaska!”32 After returning to the house and eating the tamales, washing them down with glasses of Coca-Cola, we re-packed our suitcases, and Juana’s sister brought a scale so we could weigh them. Verónica and Sophia wanted to go on a last-minute shopping trip to a nearby market to buy some candy to take back to Alaska. Their cousins took us to buy candy ice cream cones filled with marshmallows, chile flavoured cigarette-shaped candies, and some gummy sticks.  The taxi van that Juana booked rolled up outside the house just after 1pm. Hugs all around, kisses on cheeks, promises to keep in touch, waves goodbye from the windows of the                                                 32 Sure enough, we did get together to make Oaxacan style tamales shortly after my arrival in Anchorage. As we made them, we reminisced about our time in Mexico City, and the tamales we bought there.  82  van. We were all pretty quiet in the taxi. We drove past streets lined with low concrete houses, painted in a rainbow of colours. Grocery stores, soccer fields, and auto repair shops moved by the windows. As we got closer to the airport, we exited onto the freeway, and sped up to keep pace with the traffic around us. Verónica and Sophia said they don’t like coming to Mexico City, there’s too much traffic, everything looks the same, and it stinks in the way only a huge city can. They prefer smaller towns and cities like Acuitzio and Anchorage, valuing a slower pace of life and the natural beauty that both towns share.  We slowed down as we exited the freeway and turned onto the road that accesses the passenger terminals at Benito Juárez International Airport.33 The taxi driver broke the silence to ask what airline we were traveling with. “Alaska Airlines,” Juana said. The taxi stopped and Juana handed him the money as the rest of us got out of the van. A valet came to ask if he could carry our luggage, and Juana told him to go ahead, and then leaned over to say, “I have too many suitcases!” Indeed, between the four of us we were traveling with seven large suitcases, plus carry on bags. Verónica and Sophia had even left clothes behind in Acuitzio, either giving them away to friends and family, or leaving them hung in the closet in their house to wear when they return the following summer. In the lineup at the baggage counter, Juana said she felt nervous. She said her husband, Luis, usually handles all the passports and stuff when they travel. But, like his daughters, Luis doesn’t like going to Mexico City, he prefers to fly into Guadalajara or Ixtapa. Juana likes traveling through Mexico City because her family lives there. While we waited in line to check                                                 33 This is a major international airport, located in Mexico City. Originally built as a military airport in 1928, it was converted into a commercial airport in 1939 (AICM 2013). In 2006, it was renamed after Benito Juárez, who served as president of Mexico for five terms from 1852 to 1872. 83  in, Vero and Sophia put luggage tags on the checked luggage and carry-on bags. After checking in, we lined up for the security review, and went through a procedure familiar to anyone who travels by air: place your bag on the conveyor belt to be scanned, make sure your computer is out if you have one, pass your boarding pass and passport to the officer, wait to be waved through the metal detection device, wait anxiously as another officer reviews the image of the inside of your suitcase. Since this was not the United States, we didn’t have to remove our shoes. This was also less arduous than the process at some smaller airports in Mexico, where passengers line up at the gate to have their luggage reviewed in person. When traveling through the United States, the Transportation and Security Agency may review your luggage without your presence, leaving a notification inside so that you are aware that a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent reviewed your bag. Once in the waiting area, we found a place to sit and Juana propped her legs up on her wheeled carry-on suitcase. She told me earlier that she purchased that suitcase in particular because she could put her feet up like that. Juana said she felt happy to be going to Alaska with her kids, and excited to see her husband. Even though she felt sad to be leaving her family, she said that being away makes her want to come back to Anchorage even more. We decided to get something to eat because the girls don’t like to eat on airplanes – they feel kind of airsick in flight. Juana and I had ham and cheese croissant sandwiches and bottled water, Sophia had a cheeseburger with chips and an apple soda and Verónica had flautas, rolled up tortillas filled with meat and then deep fried. She told me later she got flautas because she loves flautas and this would be her last meal in Mexico. Unfortunately they were disappointing, and very expensive, compared to the ones you can buy in Acuitzio or Morelia. After we ate 84  Juana and I walked around the airport, talking. I commented on how time passes so quickly in an airport, and Juana agreed. It does: the three hours passed rapidly. When the announcement was made to board our plane we waited until our rows were called. In the meantime Juana helped some of the other people in the waiting room who approached her for help deciphering their tickets. Some of them seemed like they had not traveled by air before, and perhaps some could not read, but Juana spoke with authority. Indeed, she is an experienced traveler who makes this trip every year. It is possible to take for granted the knowledge required to travel back and forth – moving to and through airports, navigating customs and immigration, booking flights, securing the appropriate paperwork, all of this requires knowledge that is typically gained through practice. Migrant Acuitzences have been socialized to be mobile and are well acquainted with the practice of air travel, but this is not the case for everyone. Again, differences between people can produce friction along the way. They called our rows and we got up to stand in line. Juana said  “And we don’t have to get vaccinations!” We all smiled with relief. Earlier in the summer, Mexican health authorities had been vaccinating everyone leaving Mexico because of an outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus, creating yet another (if brief) interruption in global patterns of mobility. Although the vaccination was not a requirement for travel, we did not realize this at the time. This is an example of another friction, the management of border crossing, which extends to biomedical concerns. We didn’t have to get vaccinated, but medical examinations and vaccinations are required for US permanent residency applications, and for visa applications in many countries around the world. Being sick could potentially stop movement between nation states.  We boarded the aircraft and located our seats. The flight attendants handed out the customs and immigration cards early on. Juana filled it out for her family and then read the in 85  flight magazine. The girls brought stuffed animals and blankets. We were served tamales and churros in-flight and I noticed that it was a very sociable flight. I wrote fieldnotes as the sound of voices in Spanish and English chattered around me, above the voice of the engines. My travel companions fell asleep and I changed my watch to Pacific Time, two hours earlier.  Doing research while traveling has its own rhythm. At times you are moving through the airport, waiting in line, getting your luggage, finding your gate. Other times, the airplane is moving through the air while you are stationary, buckled into an airplane seat. For that reason, my notes about this trip were mostly taken in-flight. The logistics of arranging travel with research participants beforehand was also challenging, confirming their itineraries by telephone and then trying to book flights on the same carrier, at the same time. I was traveling on a Canadian passport, meaning I traveled separately from them through the US Customs and Border Protection checkpoint within LAX. However, experiencing mobility provides important insights into the experience of the trip. The common experience of mobility between the United States and Mexico is something that Striffler (2007) says is essential for building transnational community. Indeed, mobility is essential for transnational life. Transnational lives and communities are constructed and sustained, not only at the end points or at the ‘nodes’ in the networks, but along the lines, routes, trajectories, or corridors that connect them. The shared experience of travel along these routes is important for a sense of belonging in transnational space.  We landed in LA about a half an hour early, disembarked, and entered the terminal. LAX is a hub for many national and international airlines, including Alaska Airlines. The hub system of air travel organizes air traffic connections so that all routes are connected to hubs like spokes 86  on a wheel. Alaska Airlines has hubs in Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles, which means that anyone flying to other destinations will need to switch airplanes at the hub.  Verónica turned on her US phone to check text messages and Facebook updates, meaning that she quickly activated the networks of connectivity grounded in US territory. She had been using a different phone in Mexico, one with an Acuitzio number. She takes that Mexican cell phone back to Anchorage so that friends and family can text her from Mexico without paying extra. To get extra cell phone credit while in Anchorage, she asks an aunt in Acuitzio to buy it, and then pays her back later. Some people leave money with a friend or family member when they head back to the United States to buy cell credit on their behalf while they are away. This is one way that people can easily stay connected to close friends and family in Acuitzio without those in Acuitzio having to pay the long distance charges.34 It is very common to have multiple phones. In fact, by the end of my fieldwork, I had three cellphones – a Canadian one with a Vancouver number, a Mexican one with an Acuitzio number, and a United States one with an Anchorage number. We passed through the United States Customs and Border Protection review checkpoint in the airport. Juana, Verónica, and Sophia, who hold both Mexican and US citizenship, and who were traveling with US passports went through the line for citizens while I, a Canadian citizen traveling with a Canadian passport, went through the line for visitors, or “aliens” in the terminology of US Homeland Security. Afterwards, I asked Juana if they question her in English or in Spanish. She said, “Always in English.” I later asked her if they travel with Mexican or US passports, and she said that they always travel with the US ones, “it’s easier that way.” The US                                                 34 My colleague Erin Jonasson outlined some other strategies for using and maximizing cell phone credit among Acuitzences in her MA thesis (Jonasson 2008). 87  Department of Homeland Security oversees entry of people and goods to the national spatial formation of the United States, and this is a point of geopolitical friction that can bring many non-US citizens to a stop entirely if they are determined not to have appropriate paperwork or reasons to enter the United States.35 Other common reasons for being denied entry include: having a communicable disease, having a criminal record for “crimes of moral turpitude,” for possession or trafficking in a controlled substance, any involvement with terrorism or terrorist organizations, for human trafficking, if you have been involved with money laundering, if you have limited financial resources, or if you have been previously deported or previously overstayed a period of admission to the US (US Department of State n.d.).   We met up after being admitted to the United States of America and I noticed that Juana seemed both stressed and rushed as we hurried to the baggage carousel. All of the suitcases came pretty quickly except one. Meanwhile, Verónica was stacking the suitcases on a cart, placing a particularly large one on the bottom. Her mom said, “No hija, there’s bread in that one”. Many people travel with food from Mexico to Alaska, and as I have described elsewhere, traveling with food is a spatial practice that helps people get used to life in transnational space (Komarnisky 2009). There are many regulations around traveling with food to the United States, but Acuitzences in general are aware of what they are allowed to travel with and what they are not36. One of Juana’s very large suitcases was stuffed with not only bread, but with two large                                                 35 In fact, this happened to me on my very first trip to Alaska to start fieldwork for my MA thesis. In Vancouver I was turned back because I did not have a round trip flight booked. I flew to Anchorage without incident the following week, after booking a round trip ticket and collecting paperwork from my university and bank to show that I had plans to return to Canada, and the money to fund my stay in the United States.  36 I analyze this further in Chapter 5. 88  blocks of cheese wrapped in foil, plastic bags full of rich dark mole paste,37 pinole,38 candy of all kinds, crispy churros,39 chamoy chile sauce, handicrafts to decorate their home with, and souvenirs for friends in Alaska. Verónica rolled her eyes and moved it. Juana watched anxiously for the last bag. After a few minutes, she spotted it as it rolled down the chute and onto the conveyor belt and she immediately ran to grab it off of the carousel.  After collecting our bags, we left the international terminal and transferred to terminal 3. We had a bit of time for a restroom break and some phone calls. Vero called her older brother, Toño, and chatted briefly with him before passing the phone to Juana. He told her that he was cleaning the house and she laughed at this. Her son Toño and husband Luis had gone back from Mexico to Anchorage about two weeks earlier. Her husband had to get back to work, and her son went with him because his ticket was purchased as a companion fare to Luis’s ticket. The Bravo family and many other families that I met in Alaska usually fly Alaska Airlines, and many carry Alaska Airlines credit cards which allow you to collect points to redeem for travel. As well, every year cardholders receive a companion fare ticket. For the Bravos, this means purchasing only three full price tickets for all five family members. This makes moving back and forth much cheaper and easier for them.  We stopped an airport employee to ask how to get to our terminal. “What airline?” he asked, “Where are you going?”  Juana said, “Alaska Airlines, to Anchorage.”                                                  37 In Acuitzio, the usual type of mole people eat and buy is mole poblano which although the sauce is famously from Puebla, many people in Acuitzio make it to sell, and many Acuitzences buy mole sauce in town to take to Alaska with them.  38 Pinole is toasted and lightly sweetened corn meal. It can be made into a thick beverage, similar to atole, or eaten like porridge.  39 Juana bought bags of small crispy churros, not the large soft ones that the reader might be more familiar with.  89  The man said, “Oh, Anchorage – you gonna see Sarah Palin there?”  Juana replied, “No, I never see her.”  They both laughed. He gave us directions and as we walked away Juana turned to me and said, “No one likes Sarah Palin, do they?” “No, it doesn’t seem like it,” I replied. This was two years after Sarah Palin’s Vice-Presidential campaign, and she was well on her way to being discredited as a politician after being impersonated by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live and making multiple controversial comments in interviews. Nevertheless, her image remains firmly tied to that of Alaska and she remains one of the most famous Alaskans today. My flight to Vancouver was due to depart from gate 31, and theirs to Anchorage from gate 30, with a difference of about five minutes between the departure times listed on our boarding passes. Initially we thought our gates would be side by side, but they weren’t. I said, “Well, I’ll walk to your gate and then say goodbye”.  Juana said “Ay, how I dislike goodbyes. No one likes them, do they?” We walked to their gate and waited and talked. Finally, it was time to board. I hugged Juana, then Verónica, then Sophia. Juana said “Take care of yourself, we’ll see you in Alaska soon.” I walked to my gate, boarded, and settled into my window seat where I watched their airplane slowly back away and depart. They arrived in Anchorage late that night and I knew they had made it home when I saw Vero update her Facebook status. In my description of this trip, subtle forms of friction inflected our mobility, even if nothing serious interrupted our travel plans. The small trip to the airport requires a lot of logistics to work out, and the trip is sometimes uneven. There is tension between fast and slow forms of speed and mobility, smooth and rough spaces, “here” and “there” throughout the trip. Frictions 90  and obstacles are produced and need to be navigated at multiple levels throughout our trip, particularly when nation-states manage movement across borders, but also involving individual characteristics and skills required to move (for instance, the knowledge of how to navigate security at the airport). At whatever level they are produced, friction affects the speed of movement, frequency of trips, and the corridors of travel for Acuitzences who move between Alaska and Michoacán.  Rather than taking for granted the experience of mobility between distant locations, in this section I explored the strategies, social implications, and factors conditioning mobility by airplane between Alaska and Mexico (Cresswell 2006; Ingold 2007). A growing number of scholars have analyzed the importance of movement in the production of space. Doreen Massey for instance, envisions space as the product of interrelations constituted through interactions, of the simultaneity of “stories so far,” of the meeting up of trajectories (Massey 2005). Deleuze and Guattari have also examined patterns of mobility and their relationship with power through the concepts of deterritorialization and reterritorialization, two inseparable moments marked by deterritorializing movement by non-state actors along what they call “lines of flight” and the codifying, stratifying, territorializing, organizing process of reterritorialization conducted by states (Deleuze and Guattari 1987:4). Movements of deterritorialization are always entangled with processes of reterritorialization, and migrations across international borders are one of the processes of mobility whose flow the state tries to code and regulate, but not always successfully (Gordillo 2011). While my travel companions were moving across vast distanced legally and therefore without challenging the state territorializations, they were at the same time deterritorializing the alleged boundedness of Mexican bodies, food patterns, and objects within the spatiality of the Mexican territory. 91  Mobility between Mexico and Alaska is thus a sticky counterpoint to the notion of aspatial flows evoked by authors like Appadurai (1990). Following Henri Lefebvre (1991), Doreen Massey (2005), and Anna Tsing (2005), I conceptualize mobility as productive, material, embodied, grounded, and inflected by friction. That is, people do not simply move across space, they engage with the landscape, the weather, and the airplane or automobile as they go. In the next sections, I analyze how this is the case when people move across international borders, and beyond. 92      Figure 5: Canada-USA Border Along the Alaska Highway, 2011. Photo by Author.  93  Crossing Borders  Most academic analyses of the materiality of mobility between the United States and Mexico focus on the US-Mexico border itself, where people cross at one of 45 designated checkpoints or surreptitiously along the over 3,000 kilometre line. The border traverses a variety of terrains, from dense urban areas to inhospitable deserts. Today, over 46% of US borderland environments are federally owned or managed lands, vast wilderness areas which are the legacy of historico-geographical processes of dispossession and protected area legislation (Sundberg 2011:324). From the Gulf of Mexico, the border follows the course of the Rio Grande to the crossing between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua before heading west to cross vast tracts of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan and Colorado deserts to another urban crossing between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Baja California, finally reaching the Pacific Ocean. Much popular and academic coverage of border mobility focuses on undocumented crossings made by Mexican migrants, many assisted by coyotes, the middlemen who are paid to guide potential crossers through the border region on foot across mountains and deserts to finally arrive in the United States (Hellman 2002). Jason De Léon (2012) writes about the technologies and objects used during undocumented border crossings between Sonora, Mexico, and Southern Arizona.40 He analyzes ordinary items like clothes, shoes, and water bottles that have been shaped by the institutionalized border enforcement practices of the U.S. government, the human smuggling industry in Mexico, and by undocumented migrants into a unique set of tools used for                                                 40 Due to the construction of border fences in areas along the border where observed “illegal” crossings were highest, migrants have been forced to travel through corridors that run through more remote areas (Sundberg and Kaserman 2007). In Arizona, for instance, migrants must walk more than 80 kilometres through the Sonoran desert before arriving at the nearest road on the United States-side of the border, a journey that has cost thousands of people their lives.  94  both subterfuge and survival (De Léon 2012:478). Moreover, environmental features of the landscape, like deserts, rivers, plants, and animals can inflect and disrupt daily practices of boundary enforcement and crossing (Sundberg 2011).  The trajectories of border-crossers extend well past the border region itself, however, and across the continent people use technology and engage with the terrain as they move between the United States and Mexico. Acuitzio and Anchorage are separated, when travelling by road, by the US-Mexico border and two Canada-USA borders, meaning that the experience of land travel involves three different border crossings. By air, in contrast, you would experience only one border crossing: the Mexico-USA border, physically relocated away from the actual geopolitical border to whichever airport you land in when leaving one country and entering another. This means that the experience of driving south from Alaska involves more friction points controlled by border officials, so that some people or things may not move as easily as others, and may not be able to move in certain ways at all.  Gupta and Ferguson (1992) argue that representations of space in dominant discourses and also in the social science are dependent on images of break, rupture, and disjunction so that each society, nation, or culture is presented as occupying its own discontinuous space (Gupta and Ferguson 1992:6). Nation-states are also formed based on the idea of territorial separation and boundedness (Anderson 1991; Gupta and Ferguson 1992) and a “sedentarist metaphysics” where “people are often thought of, and think of themselves, as being rooted in place and as deriving their identity from that rootedness” (Malkki 1992). The back and forth movements of many Acuitzences erode this sedentarist metaphysics and emphasize the contingent, entangled, interconnected, and co-produced nature of spaces, undermining the apparent stability, boundedness, and timelessness (Gordillo 2004; Gupta and Ferguson 1992; Massey 2005; 95  Rockefeller 2010; Tsing 2005). But as policed spaces, borders split and maintain territorial imperatives through nation-state politics while at the same time regulating, constricting, and allowing for the movement of people and things across them (Alvarez 1995). The border thus, as part of the terrain between the United States and Mexico, has the capacity to inflect mobility with significant geopolitical friction, and even to stop mobility altogether. How that friction is experienced depends on positionality along lines of gender, class and age, positions that determine what resources and technologies the person traveling can access, possibly even including luck. Lemons for Good Luck: Citizenship and Mobility  While interacting with Claudia in Anchorage, she told me about the first time they came to Alaska. The first time, we were informally chatting at her house, and the second during a tape-recorded interview in my apartment in Anchorage. Her family has made a complicated series of moves between Mexico and Alaska, beginning with her grandfather’s trip north to work on the Alaska pipeline in 1966 through 1977, followed by her father’s move north in 1987 to pay off his debts. After a few years of living apart, Claudia’s mother wanted to reunite the family in Alaska, so she and her four children crossed the Mexico-USA border as undocumented immigrants in 1985. Claudia was about four years old, but she remembers the day they crossed the border and traveled to Alaska for the first time, crossing illegally and without papers, but with the assistance of her grandfather’s friend, who he met while he was working in Alaska in the 1970s and 1980s.  “I remember that we traveled by bus from Acuitzio to Tijuana, which took forever because the bus was stopping in every little town. It was not like a direct bus. I remember that there were lot of people, some of them had seats and some of them were just standing in the 96  middle so the bus was full at all times. And then I remember, my grandpa’s friend, she’s from Nicaragua and she went to Tijuana with her sister and she crossed the border with us.”  Claudia and her family crossed the border in two cars. Claudia was in the back seat with her aunt who was so nervous that she put lemons under her arms for luck, “for protection or whatever she was calling it.” Her aunt needed protection because they were all crossing the border “illegally,” without US visas or Green Cards or documentation of any kind. Their immigration status, and the fact of the border slowed and could have stopped Claudia and her family in Tijuana. Claudia’s aunt was hoping that the lemons under their arms would help them cross the border without incident, and it seems to have worked. The friend from Nicaragua who helped them cross was a US citizen, and Claudia believes that this helped even more than the lemons. Claudia was a small child at this time, however, and she doesn’t recall much about actually crossing the border herself.  The undocumented status of Claudia and her family also affected their speed of movement. They did not fly directly to Anchorage; they took a bus to the border, and crossed by car with a family friend. That is, they were required to move through longer, slower, and more roundabout corridors, and in addition, the experience of the border crossing required both luck and protection, at least for Claudia’s aunt. Their mobility, although slower than flying directly, extended past the border in both directions, on buses and airplanes that expanded northwards from Acuitzio.  Salvador’s trip from Mexico to Alaska was even slower because of more roundabout corridors. I first interviewed him in Acuitzio in 2005, and we met again in Anchorage when I lived there for fieldwork in 2011 and 2012. At our first meeting, he was working in Anchorage, while his wife and young son lived in Acuitzio. By 2011, they had added a daughter to their 97  family and they were all living in Anchorage together. However, his initial trip there was long and fraught as he crossed the US-Mexico border illegally, walking and running through the desert to eventually arrive in California. He described the crossing as follows: “It’s good to believe in luck, and I was lucky when I crossed. We crossed at Tijuana through the hills, and it took about 5 or 6 hours. At dawn. So this guy, I don’t remember his name because, or well he said he wouldn’t give us his name, right? So this guy told us how we were going to cross and he told us that we were going to walk for a really long time but that we should have faith in him, that we’d cross, and nothing bad would happen to us. And we were lucky that nothing happened while we were walking in the hills. There was another group of about 60 or 70 people in another group. In our case, it was just two of us, with the man. That bigger group, they were people just like us. Illegals, I mean. And well, I guess they had trouble, and maybe that helped us. Like they were a bigger group so immigration was more focused on them than us. Anyway, in the end everything turned out OK. We were lucky. I believe in luck. And luck because the other group of people ran but we were calm, we were relaxed, and we made it. There are people that run from one side to the other but this man said just go across calmly and nothing will happen.”  After that, Salvador worked in California from 1988 until 1993 when his brother invited him to come and work in Alaska. By this time he had attained legal status as a resident of the United States (as a Green Card holder) and could move more freely.  This leads me to another aspect of the impact of friction on mobility – frequency. Frictions of movement lead to differential speed and use of different corridors of travel, but they also affect the frequency of travel. For instance, as I described earlier, for an undocumented migrant, the friction of the border makes movement slow, and travel must be by alternate corridors, especially across the border zone itself. This increased friction means that many people decrease the number of trips they take. Some people that I interviewed in Anchorage who are undocumented are not able to return home. They perceive the risk of travel back and forth across the border to be too great. The distance also limits the ability to travel regularly home, since the trip back is long and expensive. So, as migrants gain legal status and capital in Alaska, 98  they are able to overcome the friction of distance to travel back and forth more often than previously. Indeed, among the Acuitzences I worked with in Anchorage, there is a pattern of increasing trips home. With more time spent living in Alaska, people are able travel back to Acuitzio more often. With more time spent living transnationally, people are able to develop the skills, statuses, and capital that enable them to travel more freely.41 Citizenship thus makes it possible to move more freely as it also ties people to a particular nation state.42  My discussion with Octavio exemplifies these dynamics. Octavio now owns a restaurant in Anchorage, and has dual citizenship. However, he came to Alaska without papers and told me about how US immigration came after him more than once in Anchorage. “Before you got your Green Card, did you go back and forth between Acuitzio and Alaska many times?” “No, not many times. Because I couldn’t leave the country. I traveled about two or three times with the same passport but every time I traveled I had to travel without documents. So when I traveled, I traveled by plane. Like nowadays they won’t let someone get on if they don’t have documents. But back then there weren’t the same problems like there are now. If I arrived in Los Angeles, for example, they would ask me where I was going, and I would tell them I was going to Mexico. Someone who didn’t have a passport could show an ID proving they were mexicano and they would let them go.”  Octavio points out that getting back into Mexico wasn’t easy either: When I arrived in Mexico City, I always had to save some money to give them to let me into Mexico.” Octavio means a bribe, explaining that because he didn’t have any documents and until he paid them, the border guards would tell him to go and talk to Mexican immigration since he couldn’t prove where he was from. “I didn’t want to travel very often because it was a lot of trouble to travel. It                                                 41 I will elaborate further on the concept of traction in Chapter 4, and on how people acostumbrarse or “get used to” transnational life this way in Chapter 5. 42 Of course, it depends on where you have citizenship and where you are traveling. Citizenship from the United States, for example, means that you can travel without a visa to many countries around the world. However, to visit other countries (like Russia for example), someone traveling on a US passport would need a visa.  99  was better to stay here in Anchorage, ya. Because every time I went, it was just all immigration problems.”   I asked Octavio about how he felt once he got a Green Card:  “And so it was a total difference once you got your papers?”  Octavio replied,  “Yes, it ended the feeling that when you go around they’re going to surprise you, and take you away.” When he didn’t have papers, Octavio described carrying that feeling with him all the time, and even said he had trouble sleeping. He continued, “finally the day arrived where, I felt like, free. Estuviera libre. Well it’s exactly that, free. After that, I came back to Alaska and I started to work again because I could work and I wouldn’t have any problems.” However, getting permanent residency also involves a lot of travel. Citizenship requires mobility as a matter of process. For example, Green Card or Permanent Residency43 applicants living in the United States need to exit the United States and re-enter as US residents. Many Acuitzences talked about having to travel to facilitate paperwork for their Permanent Residency applications. In 2012, I met with Salvador and Inés at their townhouse apartment in South Anchorage for dinner and an interview. We had not spoken in depth since the last time I was in Acuitzio in 2005. At that time, Inés and their son lived in Mexico, while Salvador lived in Anchorage, working in landscaping during the summer months, and returning to Acuitzio over the winter. Salvador and Inés had to travel a lot to arrange papers for the family. He got his residency in 2002, and in 2005 he became a naturalized US Citizen so that he could apply for his family to join him in Anchorage. People had told him that once he was a citizen it would be easy,                                                 43 My participants used the term residencía (residency) most of the time, and infrequently the English term Green Card. I use the term residency in English to mean Green Card or US Permanent Residency.""100  in six months his wife and child would be with him in Anchorage. However, six months became six years as they waited for a decision. They waited and wrote letters to Alaska’s governor, to a senator, and even to then-US President George W. Bush. Meanwhile, Salvador continued to travel back and forth between Anchorage and Acuitzio. During this time, his daughter was born.  After six years, a letter finally arrived, directing them to be present for an appointment at the American Consulate in Ciudad Juárez so that their son could get his Green Card. Salvador flew to Mexico, and then the whole family traveled from Acuitzio to Ciudad Juárez together for the appointment. Acuitzio and Ciudad Juarez are about 1700 kilometres apart, a drive that would take at least 18 hours by automobile, and likely much longer by bus. At the Consulate, they found out that because Salvador was a US citizen his daughter was also already a US citizen, even though she was born outside of the United States. So, they had to go to Mexico City to the US Embassy to get a passport for their daughter. They went from Ciudad Juárez, to Acuitzio, and then to Mexico City a few days later. Acuitzio del Canje is located about 325 kilometres from Mexico City, along toll highways from Morelia. Salvador and Inés were in a rush to arrange their papers because as Salvador put it: “As we say in Mexico, la cosa era calientita, we had to strike while the iron was hot.” However, they couldn’t get an appointment until three days later, so they went back to Acuitzio, and then back to Mexico City again, leaving their son with his grandmother until they returned. Finally, all they were waiting for was his wife’s residency. “We were wondering when she would get an appointment.” Again they waited, and wrote letters. The time came for Salvador to return to Alaska to go back to work and he once again left Acuitzio for Anchorage. Exactly one year after the letter arrived for his son, his wife’s letter arrived, and they went back to Ciudad Juarez for another interview. Finally, the whole family was able to relocate to Anchorage to live together in 2008. Because they all have either US citizenship or residency, 101  now they are all able to travel together to Acuitzio as well. Citizenship then, facilitates mobility between Mexico and the United States but the process of becoming a US citizen requires long-distance mobility among multiple places. You not only have to leave the spatial boundaries of the United States to re-enter as a resident but also do paperwork in US immigration offices based in very different places within Mexico, and very far from each other as Mexico City, in the center of the country, and Ciudad Juárez on the northern border.  The large anthropological body of work on transnational links and identities (Appadurai 1990, 1996a; Basch et al. 1994; Ong 1999; Schiller et al. 1995; Tsing 2005) and, in particular, on the transnational networks woven by Mexican migrants in the United States (Cohen 2001, 2004; De Genova 2005; Hirsch 2003; Kearney 2004; Rouse 1992, 2002; Stephen 2007; Striffler 2007) illustrates that movement is necessary and crucial for transnational life. Roger Rouse, for instance, argues that the circulation of people, money, goods, and information between places across the globe creates settlements that become so closely woven together that they constitute a single community spread across a variety of sites (Rouse 2002). Lynn Stephen uses the term “transborder,” instead of transnational, to emphasize that people originally from Mexico living in the United States cross ethnic, class, cultural, and state borders in Mexico and in different regions of the US to live within multiple localities and discontinuous social, economic, and cultural spaces (Stephen 2007). Transborder lives are lived across borders and in multiple sites of all types, and transborder migrants move between nation-states as well as between different social economic and cultural spaces (Stephen 2007:23, my emphasis). In the next section, I analyze how this mobility confronts the friction created by the long and diverse roads that one is required to drive in order to reach Michoacán from Alaska.  102        Figure 6: Road Between Tiripetio and Acuitzio, 1966 (© Raymond E. Wiest).      103  Highways of North America  Anchorage and Acuitzio are connected by the vast network of roads that stretches across the continent, producing a web of lines that directs traffic along particular corridors. Roads, whether gravel trails, city streets, or multi-lane highways reorient social relations along them because they change how people move to, through, and beyond places, and how and where they encounter one another.  Building a road in North America is usually the domain of the state,44 as it requires engineering and a high level of investment and organization (Wilson 2004). Moreover, roads do not only need to be planned and engineered but once built, they also need to be maintained: potholes need to be filled, cracks repaired, snow or debris cleared in order to keep the way smooth and the traffic flowing. All of this work makes roads appear as fixed and permanent parts of the landscape. However, Arguonova-Low’s (2012a) work on winter roads in Siberia illustrates that roads and what it means to move along them can be more fluid. Winter roads in Siberia are seasonal, and are built by truck drivers themselves, who beat down the snow into a compacted road with partially deflated tires. This technique transforms a direction into a road through the slow movement of a vehicle on snow and ice. In general, all roads are constructed and traveled along through the interaction between technology and terrain.  Attention to roads necessarily means attention to driving, and the practice of driving in Mexico is somewhat different from driving in Canada or the United States although the rules of the road are similar. For example, in Mexico, drivers often treat a two-lane highway with paved                                                 44 There are exceptions, of course. Private property owners may build a road to their home, and roads are built by corporations for access to resources. The roads that Gonzalo travels along were built by the State, although to facilitate economic and military access to territory. 104  shoulders as a four-lane road, using the shoulders as an extra lane for passing. In Acuitzio, many people do not know how to drive and do not have a driver’s license, since their daily needs can be met by walking or traveling by bus. Many women that I interviewed in Alaska said that they never drove a car while living in Mexico, but had to learn once moving to the United States. In Anchorage, public transit is limited, so people learn to drive in order to go to work, school, shopping, and for leisure.45 However, given that driving in Anchorage is experienced as different than driving in Acuitzio, many people prefer not to drive when they are in Mexico even though they know how to do it. For example, Oscar talked about how driving is one of the things that is hard to get used to when he goes back to Mexico:  “I came [to Alaska] in 1987. And you have the idea that you’re going to go back and that things will be more or less the same as you left them. And the truth is that they aren’t the same and sometimes things are very different. So you get used to the salaries there [in the United States] and well it’s difficult because now you have another way of life. And the customs, manners, or education or laws, whatever, sometimes in this country are different and in Mexico it’s a lot of work to adapt to the organized crime and corruption. For example, I have even had problems driving. I don’t like it because I give someone the right of way and no one gives it to me, everyone honks at me, and so it’s really difficult even to drive!” For Oscar, driving indexes a completely different and sociospatially distant way of life that is so difficult to get used to, that he prefers not to drive when he is in Mexico.46  Driving means engaging with the terrain through the technology of the automobile. The characteristics of your car (weight, aerodynamics, tires) interacts with the materiality of the smoothed road as you slow to ascend or maneuver around corners, accelerate on descents or to pass a slower automobile. Weather has an effect on the speed because ice, snow, wind, and rain                                                 45 My own experience getting around Anchorage without a car was challenging. The city is spread out over a huge area so walking is not an option to access many areas. The bus system is limited. There are taxis, but they are quite expensive. Cycling is possible, but challenging in the wintertime.  46 I write about how people “get used to” transnational life between Alaska and Mexico in Chapter 5. 105  affect mobility by road, and potentially increase risks. Frost heaves along the Alaska Highway mean a bumpy ride as you travel along the border of Kluane National Park in Yukon Territory. Wet lowlands on the road from Morelia to Acuitzio near Tiripetio mean the road could flood. As well, drivers follow the formal and informal rules of the road. In Mexico, people might pass you on either side, as Oscar said. Traveling along northern highways might mean traveling with extra gasoline and tires just in case you cannot reach a service station or repair shop. In this section, I draw on two travel stories from Gonzalo Calderón to explore the experience of moving along roads to travel from Alaska to Mexico. I analyze his experience along two specific roads, the route from Morelia to Acuitzio del Canje in Mexico and on the Alaska Highway. For Gonzalo, the road is much more than a connection between points (Argounova-Low 2012b). It narrates his experience of the sociospatial distance between Mexico and Alaska.  Out of Place: Roads to Acuitzio In January 2012, I interviewed Gonzalo Calderón over the telephone from a boardroom office at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Gonzalo spoke to me from his home in Southern California, where he now lives. He told me about the first time he went back to his hometown in Michoacán in 1957. He had saved a bit of money while working in Alaska, and he wanted to keep studying even though it had been five years since he left medical school in Morelia to go to Alaska. He had been working in a Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line construction camp along the Yukon River, cooking for the workers in the camp kitchen, revealing the ways in which the Cold War required a particular infrastructure in Alaska that demanded a large amount of 106  workers.47 When he decided to go back to Mexico, he left the camp and went to Fairbanks by car. Then, he drove to Anchorage also by car, where he boarded a plane to fly to Los Angeles where two of his sisters lived. When he arrived in LA, he purchased a brand new car48 and left for Mexico with plans to continue his medical school training. He said, “But really quickly I crossed the border and I had already forgotten where I came from!” He continued, “Crossing the border I started to see the differences. I had already forgotten the poverty of Mexico. I saw the poverty and I started to feel a lot of compassion for the people.” He arrived in Morelia, “llegué a mi tierra,” as he puts it, “I arrived in my homeland.” Since at that time there was no highway to Acuitzio he said “Well, how am I going to get this car into town?” He explained how only half of the highway up into the mountains was paved, and that at that time, the rest was basically a dirt road, where nothing traveled but big trucks and buses. His new car was fast, brand new, and low to the ground, but it couldn’t really drive on dirt roads like that. “I thought about it and I drove through the cultivated fields [instead of on the road] and well, I don’t know how I did it but I made it to town with my car. What do you think of that?”  In Acuitzio at that time, only the main street was paved, and it was paved with cobblestones that had been laid by hand. “And that’s where I arrived in my town, on Riva Palacio Street” Gonzalo said,                                                  47 DEW stands for Distant Early Warning, and the DEW Line was a cold-war era series of radar stations built across the North American Arctic to detect a Soviet invasion by air, sea, or land. Military projects like this, along with resource extraction projects and tourism, have brought people to Alaska and produced connections to elsewheres. However, although we know people came to Alaska from many parts of the world seeking work and fortune, the typical sourdough (long time Alaskan) narrative does not include much diversity, and certainly not the stories of Mexican migrants working on Cold War-era military projects (like Gonzalo Calderón) or the trans-Alaska pipeline (like Oscar Cárdenas Sr.) or roads and railways throughout the state (like Luis Bravo). I discuss this further in Chapter 4. 48 In a 2012 publication, I said that Gonzalo’s car was a convertible (Komarnisky 2012). More recently, he corrected me: it was a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air.""107  “When I arrived I saw the poverty there and it embarrassed me, right? No one there had ever seen a new car; there were no cars because there was no highway. And a brand new car, nobody had seen one like that in the pueblito. I was embarrassed by my new car, the clothes I wore, and the money I brought. I felt out of place.49 And I started to think: should I stay here to study, or should I go back to Alaska to keep working, back to where I had been developing?” In this story, you get a sense of the ways that frictions and spatial counterpoints inflect Gonzalo’s trip from Alaska to Acuitzio. Particularly as he gets closer to his hometown, he slows down and his sense of feeling of being out of place increases as he crosses the border and experiences the difference between life in Mexico and Alaska, the sociospatial distance between those locations, and the difficulty of the terrain on his trip.   The slowest part of Gonzalo’s trip is the road up the mountain to Acuitzio along a highway is known as Federal Highway 14 (Michoacán) or the Morelia-Uruapan highway. This federal highway begins at the bottom of the Guayangareo Valley where Morelia, the capital city of Michoacán, sprawls out. Almost immediately after leaving Morelia, the four lanes of Highway 14 gain elevation rapidly, leveling off before passing the Cointzeo Dam. The road between Morelia and the dam was paved during the Cárdenas administration (1934-1940), but the road from Cointzeo to Villa Madero through Acuitzio was only opened and graded between 1952 and 1954 (Wiest 1970:12). In Gonzalo’s day, and when my MA supervisor Dr. Raymond Wiest went to Acuitzio to do dissertation research there in 1966, this road was little more than a dirt trail, difficult to move along, especially in the rainy season. Dr. Wiest writes:  We had considerable difficulty driving through the very wet section south of Tiripetio, but also had difficulty getting up the rise to Acuitzio due to exposed rocks and boulders, which made it difficult to maneuver between and around the changing obstacles. We were fortunate to have the Datsun Bluebird station wagon because it was relatively high off the ground. Nonetheless, the 25 kilometres                                                 49 Fuera del lugar. 108  would take between 2 and 3 hours to traverse. Often in those days, buses got stuck in the lower wet section and/or on that relatively steep incline. And beyond Acuitzio in those days it was often impossible for buses to reach Villa Madero since the road was barely graded (Wiest 2014, personal communication). As a result, travel to Morelia used to take hours along an ungraded dirt road. The entire route between Acuitzio and Morelia was paved sometime between 1970 and 1972,50 making travel faster and easier by personal automobile or bus. Building the road therefore took some time. Although road construction greatly improved travel for local residents moving into, out of, and through Acuitzio, the road was likely improved to facilitate resource extraction and manufacturing, specifically timber extraction and processing.51 By the time I first went to Acuitzio in 2005, the road was paved the entire way from Morelia to Acuitzio and beyond. The distance from Acuitzio to Morelia is now easily traversed by car or bus in about half an hour. So far in this section I have written about Gonzalo’s trip from Los Angeles to Acuitzio in 1957, focusing on the counterpoints that he encountered due to the difference he felt upon crossing the border into Mexico and the difficult terrain on the road from Morelia to Acuitzio. But a few years later, once he was back in Alaska, Gonzalo also drove once between Alaska and                                                 50 Raymond Wiest wrote in his dissertation (1970), that the road between Presa (Reservoir) Cointzio to Villa Madero had not yet been paved. Wiest’s personal correspondence with his friend and research participant Carlos shows that the road from Morelia to Lagunillas was nearly completed in March 1970, and the road from Lagunillas to Tiripetio was nearly completed a year later. In November 1971, Carlos said that the road to Acuitzio might be completed as early as 1972, and plans were to continue paving the road to Villa Madero. Wiest and several grad students returned to Acuitzio from May through August 1972 and he remembers taking pictures of the very muddy road just outside La Colonia at the southern end of Acuitzio. Dr. Wiest’s student, John Ames, later wrote that “Acuitzio is connected to Morelia by paved road as of 1972” (Ames 1973). Past Acuitzio, the road to Villa Madero remained unpaved as of 1972. In a book about Acuitzio published in 1988, Carlos Arenas García writes about the completion of the Tiripetio-Acuitzio-Villa Madero under the administration of Governor Chávez Hernández whose term ran from 1974-1980 (Arenas García 1988:14).  51 Around 1975, PROFORMICH (Productos Forestales de Michoacán) began major lumber extraction for the new sawmill in Villa Madero and the furniture factory in Acuitzio. Leading up to this, in 1972 and 1973 Carlos reported to Raymond Wiest that the Independiente Company, who had offices in Acuitzio, was working on the road to Villa Madero."109  Acuitzio and therefore travelled through vast sections of northern wilderness, which added a different dimension to his experience of mobility and distance. A Beautiful and Tragic Voyage: Traveling the Alaska Highway I visited Gonzalo Calderón at his home in Long Beach, California, in 2012. He is retired, and lives with his wife in a tidy trailer home. I visited Long Beach specifically to learn more from him about his time in Alaska, and he showed me photographs and newspaper clippings as he reminisced about his time in the north. One such story was about a trip he took, driving from Anchorage to Acuitzio in the winter of 1964. As he spoke, he was standing, motioning out the narrative, animating everything with his voice, his hands, and the movement of his whole body. I later asked him to write the story down for me, and he sent it as a letter a few months later, describing his trip as both “tragic and beautiful.” This account draws on both the spoken version, as he told it to me in Long Beach, and the written version, typed into the computer, printed, and sent to me in Edmonton.  Gonzalo decided to visit Mexico to visit his young son, who was living with his mother and sister in Morelia at the time. Before leaving, he readied his Chevy 1500 and offered a free ride to any volunteer. A religious man contacted him, saying how he wished to return to California but he didn’t have enough money. The man, who Gonzalo described as “short and around 60 years old,” without commenting on his nationality, had driven from Los Angeles to Anchorage in the summer, and began looking for work upon his arrival. He was unsuccessful, and when winter came, he didn’t have any way to get home. Gonzalo agreed to take him, since he would appreciate the company. Gonzalo said he knew that driving in the winter was risky due to the possibility of dangers like blizzards or ice on the highway, but he felt confident that his vehicle was in good 110  condition and besides that he had studded tires so he would not need to carry tire chains for steep icy sections. And so, he got together some provisions for the trip, and “on December 10 at 4 in the morning, we left towards Palmer on the Glenn Highway. The morning was dark and cold at -38 F below zero and a terrible freezing blizzard was blowing.” At Eklutna, they rescued a man whose car had broken down, dropping him off in Palmer before carrying on to Glenallen, “where it was much colder and I felt like maybe we should turn back, but we carried on along a narrow and mountainous road that looked untouched.”  “Finally”, Gonzalo writes, “we crossed a metal landmark that said on one side “Alaska, USA” and on the other “Yukon Territory, Canada.” I thought that we were still far from there, and the old man yelled “So long Alaska, we’re in Canada now!” In his telling of the story, and in the written version he sent me later, Gonzalo did not mention this border crossing in any more detail than this. His lack of emphasis on the border and the apparent ease of crossing indicate that it was not experienced as an obstacle for him and his travel partner, in fact, he does not even mention slowing down. For Gonzalo, the international borders he crossed did not produce any friction on his trip. In fact, he only mentions crossing the border to Canada, describing the marker as he drove past, but not any review of his passport or other documents, nor those of his travel companion. At this time, Gonzalo was already a US citizen, presumably traveling with a US passport. At any rate, he didn’t mention that aspect of the border crossing. For him, the obstacles involved in his drive from Alaska to Morelia were not of a geopolitical nature but produced by weather, fatigue, and distance across difficult terrain. Gonzalo continued, “Driving was very stressful because it was night and the highway was deserted and icy and full of snow. The old man noticed the danger that we were in and began to sing. We had coffee and sandwiches with us and we only stopped to refill with gasoline and coffee. And so we went in this white and lonely darkness, without encountering a single vehicle.” 111  They arrived in Whitehorse, the main town in the Yukon, late at night, but decided to carry on. On the way out of town, the police stopped them, “Where are you going?” “To Los Angeles, sir.” “Very good. But no one is heading that direction because up ahead there’s a blizzard that’s covering the highway with packed snow. It’s like sand, you know.” “Yes sir, I’ve been through blizzards like that, but I have studded tires, and two extra just in case. I’ve made it through blizzards without too much trouble, so if it’s alright with you, could I drive a few more miles and if it looks bad, I’ll come back here to stay the night.” “OK, it’s all up to you!” Gonzalo continued the story, describing what it was like to drive through a blizzard,  “I carried on with caution, challenging and then making it past every snowdrift. If you don’t make it through the drift in one go, you’re stuck and there’s nothing you can do about it. I felt how the tires slipped, those tires covered in ice. And so I kept driving ahead little by little until I was far away from town, and it was too late to turn back! My companion was afraid, and out of pure fear he started to sing, a song that my father liked, La Pajarera.52 The song brought back memories, and then I wanted to be in my rancho.53 At the end of the song, my friend covered himself up with blankets and went to sleep, while I kept driving. I only drove 30 miles per hour maximum, the temperature was -71 F but with such a wind, it felt as if it were -110 F! You could see the northern lights in all their splendor. What a rare and indescribable marvel!”  Gonzalo describes driving uphill and feeling afraid because of the snow and ice, and how the tires kept sliding, making him more nervous. He arrived at a curve in the road and it was                                                 52 La Pajerera means ‘The Birdcage’ and is a popular Mexican song that narrates the story of a man and his sweetheart who catch birds in the wild and then go to Mexico City to sell them. There are many versions of the song on YouTube.  53 A rancho in Mexico is a small farm, usually with humble accommodations and plot of land, where people may keep livestock as well as grow corn and other produce for their own use. Some Acuitzences have a house in town and a rancho outside of town. Other municipality residents live full time on their rancho. The rural hamlets outside of the town of Acuitzio del Canje are also called ranchos, for example. Gonzalo is from the rancho of Huajumbo. I believe here Gonzalo is referring to rancho in both ways – as his own farm, and the rancho of Huajumbo where he is from. 112  there that the pick up truck slid off the road and into the ditch. Panicking, he got out of the truck and onto the road,  “My whole body was shaking. I knew that soon I would freeze. I looked up, and between the pines I saw the northern lights once again. I looked down, and noticed that the road was winding downhill. I felt a terrible fear and desperation, and I wanted to cry, but I thought of God, knowing that death was certain. What a shame, so far from mi tierra54 and knowing that my body would surely be torn apart by wolves and coyotes before anyone found us.”  Lucky for him and his traveling companion, they soon saw headlights! He flashed a flashlight on and off to get their attention, and it turned out to be a police car. The police took them to a café just up ahead, where he found a long-haul trucker willing to pull his truck out of the ditch.   Disaster averted, they carried on: “It started to snow, and soon I couldn’t see the highway at all.” To stay on the road, he followed the tracks and distant taillights of the semi truck that had pulled them out. Once he couldn’t see the truck anymore, he used the rows of trees on each side of the road as a guide, steering his automobile down the middle and hoping to stay on the road. Gonzalo continues, “I drove slowly and cautiously all day. Although we didn’t have any food left, we didn’t stop. The old man slept, and I didn’t feel well. Night fell and I noticed that my hands were jumping involuntarily on the wheel from two days and one night without any sleep or food. Finally I saw lights and a sign: Fort Nelson, British Columbia.” They pulled into the parking lot of the first motel they saw, and drank coffee and ate sandwiches before falling asleep. Gonzalo said, “I woke up at 5am, only thinking of the road ahead. I couldn’t stay in bed so we                                                 54 My homeland."113  got up and continued along the Alaska Highway55 until Vancouver, driving with more confidence now that the weather was better.” In Gonzalo’s retelling of his trip, the terrain that he travels through appears as a vast wilderness, uninhabitable and empty. However, this would be in direct contradiction to the experience of the land for some local residents, especially Alaska Natives, and First Nations in Yukon and Northern British Columbia who have lived in these regions forever, and for whom the landscape has immense significance (Cruikshank 2005). Instead, Gonzalo experiences the land and weather as obstacles. While the length and terrain of the highway makes for a long and tiring drive, the very existence of the highway makes it possible to travel by car between Alaska and the rest of the continent. Gonzalo, in fact, drove down to Mexico several times. Once, he did so just because he was missing his rancho. He said that once he got it into his head that he wanted to be back at his rancho, and could think of nothing else. For this reason, “like a madman,” he would drive all the way from Anchorage to LA non-stop, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, hands jumping on the wheel. Being on the road therefore connected him powerfully to the rancho, and eventually let him get there by simply jumping into his car and driving.  A few hours later, they arrived in Dawson Creek, BC where they ate and rested well. Gonzalo drove the whole day and the entire night, without stopping in any of the towns along the way: “I remember that for many hours the highway went along a valley and a river where a drizzle of rain fell from the sky and the highway looked dangerous and I didn’t like it.” They arrived in Vancouver by night, picked up supplies and carried on to Seattle, Washington. The                                                 55 Technically the Alaska Highway does not go all the way to Vancouver, but many people refer to the whole route as the Alaska Highway, a highway to Alaska. 114  border crossing was uneventful, again only mentioned in passing by Gonzalo, and they arrived in Seattle early the next morning to eat breakfast and rest and refuel the truck. At the gas station “we washed away the snow and ice which was still four inches thick behind the tailgate of my pickup truck. What a surprise! My suitcases were still covered with snow and stuck together with ice, so that I couldn’t even move them.”  Gonzalo continued,  “I felt glorious in such a beautiful climate and I took Interstate 5 heading south. Later we took the picturesque Highway 101 along the coast and arrived in Crescent City, California to view the majestic giant redwoods that grow all over this region from Eureka until San Francisco. We decided to pass by a place where the highway went through a tunnel that the engineers had put right through the trunk of a massive tree. And we also passed by the celebrated sequoia tree and the place with the tallest trees in the world. Later we crossed the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.”  They carried on, talking about the trip and all that they had survived. Gonzalo said to his friend, “By the grace of God we have survived this beautiful nightmare and we’re about to arrive in Los Angeles!” Upon arriving in LA, Gonzalo gave the man some money “to take a taxi home, hombre!” He took off a gold medallion with an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on it, and said, “Don Gonzalo, I don’t have anything to pay you with, but please accept this gift.”   Gonzalo said to him, “No hombre! You don’t owe me anything, as a matter of fact, thank you for accompanying me!”  The man insisted that Gonzalo take the gift, and eventually he took it and gave the medallion to his sister, who still has it today. Gonzalo spent three days with his sister in LA, when she said, “I’ll come with you to Mexico.” They left for Mexico City, arriving in the Colonia where Gonzalo’s brother Elfego and his family lived. According to Gonzalo, “Elfego was the first michoacano to arrive in Anchorage, Alaska. He was the one who made it possible 115  for me to go there as well.” They celebrated the baptism of one of Elfego’s children in Mexico City, and Gonzalo later sold the pickup truck to a friend of his in Acuitzio. Gonzalo’s rendering of his road trip repeatedly reiterated the excruciatingly long distance between Anchorage and Acuitzio and, in particularly, the roughness of the terrain one needs to drive through in wintertime. Indeed, in his telling and re-telling of the story, the detail and events along the road from Anchorage to Dawson Creek take up the majority of his tale, and in comparison, they seem to have travelled quickly from Seattle to Los Angeles and later, to Mexico, even though this stretch involved thousands of kilometres. Especially in the northern part of his trip, he experienced many stops and starts, some of which almost ended his trip completely. The cold, ice, and snow of the northern winter added another level of friction, one that almost brought his trip to an end.  Most of Gonzalo’s trip took place along the Alaska Highway, which begins in British Columbia at Mile 0 at Dawson Creek and continues along over 2349 kilometres of mountainous and forested terrain to the historical end of the highway at Fairbanks.56 Prior to the construction of this highway, Alaska could only be reached by air or sea. This became a military concern after Pearl Harbor was bombed in December 1941, as the United States became anxious about the vulnerabilities of Alaska to an attack by Japan. Since building the highway meant crossing through Canada, the US government agreed to pay for everything and Canada agreed to provide the right of way (Willis 2010). In March 1942, construction by US army troops began, starting                                                 56 The first 987 kilometres are in British Columbia, traveling in a northwesterly direction to the Yukon Territory border near Watson Lake. From there, the highway continues through 929 kilometres of Yukon Territory to Port Alcan56 on the Alaska Border. From the border, it is about 320 kilometres to Delta Junction, the official end of the highway and 476 kilometres to Fairbanks, the unofficial end of the highway (The Milepost 2011). 116  from Dawson Creek, Whitehorse, and Big Delta simultaneously, all locations that were difficult to get supplies to (Willis 2010). The road was finished just over eight months later.  Ideas about how Alaska fit with the national narrative shaped the project in profound ways (Willis 2010: 72). At the time, the construction of the highway had great symbolic importance, especially as Alaska became a place on the forefront of national defense during the Second World War. The road was important for protecting the nation from Japanese attack, demonstrating political will, and providing a wartime success story (Willis 2010). However, the highway can also be seen as part of the ongoing attempts by the US to settle and develop the Alaskan landscape, conceptualized as the “Last Frontier” (Willis 2010). Ultimately, according to Willis, the road served neither an economic nor a military purpose (Willis 2010:72). The highway failed to link Alaska meaningfully with large cities or connect Alaska with the Pacific Northwest.  However, the road fundamentally reoriented Alaska as a space accessible by automobile bringing the state into the network of roads that stretch across the continent. For Yukon First Nations, who never had fixed boundaries between them, roads are part of an ongoing colonial process that has changed the relationship between humans, land, and animals (Cruikshank 2014).  Apart from one or two men who were hired as ‘guides’ Yukon First Nations didn’t actually work on the construction of the highway, but they were nevertheless drawn to the highway. At the time, the construction of the road was a ‘gravel magnet’ that drew people to it in anticipation of short-term jobs. Fur prices had fallen in the early 1940s, and people were looking for other options to support their families. The highway actually drew Yukon First Nations away from hunting territories towards the construction of the road. New villages were established along it and the people became ‘stuck’ or more fixed in place, with more limited mobility than 117  they had experienced before. It was not until fifty years later that the highway provided routes for visiting family, access to hunting, gathering and fishing sites, and even to document territory and mobilize for land claims (Cruikshank 2014). It is therefore ironic (though not surprising) that the overlapping boundaries claimed by different Yukon First Nations overlap along highway routes (Cruikshank 2014). This disruptive, dividing, and boundary-making aspect of the highway is one way in which social relations were reorganized in the North by the Alaska Highway. The highway also facilitated mobility into the region by newcomers, including those from Acuitzio who travel along the same highway all the way south. After its construction, people like Gonzalo Calderón could travel along it on their way to Mexico.  Conclusion: A Farewell Song After our flight together from Mexico City to Los Angeles, Juana, her daughters Verónica and Sophia, and I were at our gates at LAX about to go our separate ways: me to Vancouver and they onward to Anchorage via Seattle. When we arrived at our gate, music was playing at a low volume from speakers built into the ceiling of the airport. Juana heard the music and said to me, “This song is called ‘Golondrinas’. It’s sad. They play it at the end of school or things like that”. I said, “like a farewell?” “Yes,” she replied.  “Is it like saying goodbye to the golondrinas at the end of the season?” I asked. She said yes, it’s a very sad song, and it makes her feel sad just to hear it.  This is a different song from the one I described at the beginning of this chapter, the one Luis told me about while we were watching the soccer game in Acuitzio. As I described earlier in the chapter, golondrinas are long distance migrants too, making this moment particularly 118  poignant. They are a lovely allegory for long distance, annual travel.57 Indeed, the lyrics of the song that Juana pointed out to me in the airport are about leaving home and, considering the fact that my traveling companions and I were in the midst of leaving one homeland for another one, it’s no wonder that hearing it affected Juana. The song was written in 1862 by Narciso Serradell Sevilla, who was in exile in France at the time.58 It became the anthem of Mexicans in exile then, and has since been recorded and re-recorded by many artists in Mexico and beyond. And, as Juana said, it is played to say farewell – at graduations, at funerals, and at airports too. Consider the final two verses of the song: I have also left My beloved homeland That home That saw my birth My life today Is wandering and anguished And I can no longer Return home  Dear bird Beloved pilgrim My heart Is close to yours Remember Kind swallow Remember My homeland and cry59                                                  57 My colleague Ana Vivaldi alerted me to the wider significance of golondrinas as a metaphor in Latin America. For example, in Argentina there is an almost formal concept of migrantes golondrinas that people use to name the temporary rural workers who travel from harvest to harvest.  58 For reference information about Golondrinas and Narciso Serradell, see http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narciso_Serradell, accessed December 1, 2014. 59 Deje también/mi patria idolatrada/esa mansion/que me miró nacer/mi vida es hoy/errante y angustida/y ya no puedo/a mi mansión volver/Ave querida/amada peregrina/mi corazón/al tuyo acercare/voy recordando/tierna golondrina/recordare/mi patria y lloraré 119  Spatial practice includes how the material conditions of travel are perceived, felt, and understood by those traveling (see Lefebvre 1991). This is the affective experience of the trip, the encounter between a body in motion and a place. For Juana, the affective experience of travel, and of life lived between places located so far apart from each other is expressed in the song through the metaphor of the swallow. In this chapter I have traced the mobilities of Acuitzences through space: on airplanes, across borders, and along highways. As Acuitzences move, they engage with social, political, and imaginative landscapes, technologies of travel as well as with the unevenness of the terrain. Mobility between Mexico and Alaska therefore means experiencing friction, and especially the friction of socio-spatial distance, since these two locations are geographically located as far away from one another, and are socially produced as dramatically different ways of life within different nation-states. I have shown how citizenship facilitates mobility, and how the bureaucratic process that leads to citizenship may even encourage mobility. Mobile individuals experience the sociospatial distance between Mexico and the United States, perhaps as a sense of sadness when hearing a particular song like Juana or as overwhelming fatigue manifested in jumping hands, like Gonzalo. Friction, the grip of encounter, is essential for transnational mobility and the production of transnational space between Anchorage and Acuitzio. In the next chapter, I continue to analyze the mobilities of Acuitzences who move between Mexico and Alaska, but rather than focusing on the materiality of mobility through space, I explore mobility through time and across generations. I show how multigenerational family networks have spatially expanded from Acuitzio to Alaska, and how this connection has gained traction over time.  120  Chapter 4: “My Grandfather Worked Here” – Generation, Gender, and Travel Back and Forth  Juana’s children had their US citizenship interview in Anchorage in 2005. Her youngest daughter Sophia was about five years old. Their father Luis had told them beforehand to say “yes” to every question, and the two older Bravo siblings – Verónica and Luis Jr. – said, “Ok papá, we will”.  Since the children didn’t speak much English yet, a Tejano60 immigration officer interviewed them in Spanish. He asked them: “Do you accept this country as your own? Do you feel like this is your primary country, that you’ll no longer be Mexicans, you will be Estadounidenses, Americans?” Then the officer said to them, “Do you understand what I am asking you?”  Toño said, “Yes.”  “OK, sign your certificate of nationality. Verónica, do you understand?”  “Yes.”   And Sophia. The officer asked her, “Do you understand what I am saying?”  “No.”  Juana protested, “Sophia!”  But the officer said, “No, it’s ok, let her be, she’s young and it will be more difficult for her to understand, it’s ok. She can sign her certificate.”                                                  60 A Texan of Spanish or Mexican heritage.  121  The family left the immigration office and Luis said, “Ay, hija,61 what did I tell you?” Sophia said, “I understood the questions. But, well,” she paused, “if I sign that paper, do I stop being Mexican?”  Luis said, “No hija, no. If you sign it means you accept this country because we live here in this country, this country that gave us the opportunity to have what we have, to work, and to study. But you will always be a mexicana in your heart. It’s what we have inside of us, it’s another country that we also love.”  “Ah, good,” Sophia said, “But they didn’t say that! Because I said, I’m going to sign and if I sign and I’m not going to be Mexican anymore then I don’t want to sign! But the man didn’t say that.”  Juana concluded the story, “Sophia was so worried, she felt that by signing the paper she wouldn’t be Mexican anymore. At 5 years old, Sarita.”    In this chapter, I show how multigenerational families who move between Acuitzio and Alaska create and maintain a transnational social space across time and different generations. Migration is not a linear or unidirectional movement nor is it a progression from Mexican to US-American identities over time. Instead, people orient their lives to the circuit as a whole and maintain distinct ways of life where “current lives and future possibilities involve simultaneous engagements in places associated with markedly different forms of experience” (Rouse 2002: 163). This type of process offers a counterpoint to the idea that someone could ‘lose’ their mexicanidad and become US-American, an idea which is taken up in the language of citizenship,                                                 61 Daughter, also used as an expression of affection. 122  and in studies that investigate acculturation or level of belonging in a new country. Instead, I show how, over time, generations of Acuitzences orient themselves to both locations within a transnational social field and the common experience of mobility between them. In Chapter 3, I wrote about mobility between Acuitzio and Anchorage. In this chapter, I focus on the history of mobility through time between Michoacán and Alaska within multi-generational family and compadrazgo62 networks, networks whose members differ along key lines of gender and generation. Over time, relationships are spatialized between Anchorage and Acuitzio, and people move within a social world that links these two locations.  Migrants do not act alone but as members of families and households (Boehm 2012; Cohen 2004; Stephen 2007; Wiest 1973), and the history of migration from Acuitzio to Alaska is family history. Members of multigenerational family units who live in Anchorage and Acuitzio today tell it this way. Because many Acuitzences who have travelled to Alaska to work and live are connected through kin relationships, I focus on the multi-generational family unit to explore mobility between Alaska and Mexico over time. I use the term “generation” to identify the fact that there is a kin relationship and a genealogical lineage between members of the multigenerational family unit (Hareven 2000) Since the “agency and experiences of migrants across generations [are] necessarily intertwined” (Boehm 2012:120), my analysis traces migration within family and kin relations. This chapter therefore explores mobility between Acuitzio and Anchorage as embedded in family histories. The frictions that characterize the movements of Acuitzences to and from Alaska are differentially experienced depending on individual subjectivities, experiences, and circumstances, along lines of gender and age, US                                                 62 Compadrazgo means “co-parenthood” and refers to the tie between the parents and godparents of a child.  123  immigration status, and socio-economic status (Boehm 2012). Age and intergenerational changes thus link “world-historical economic and social change with intimate spaces of caring and obligation in the family” (Cole and Durham 2007; see also Hareven 2000; Hirsch 2003; Lewis and Watson-Gegeo 2008; and Parreñas 2005).  I also take the opportunity to describe the initial expansive movements between Acuitzio and Anchorage began in the 1950s that have continued through the generations to the present moment. Early migrants produced a social space between Acuitzio and Alaska as they moved between these places, and they also made it possible for that spatial formation to gain traction and persist over time. Moreover, they also literally produced Alaska as it is today, working on projects that are today considered iconic parts of Alaska history and identity – Alaska’s highways, pipelines, fisheries, and military projects. These early migrants facilitated the movement of subsequent generations of Acuitzences, forging trajectories for new generations to move along.  People draw from and work within their positionality within family networks as well as other resources, systems, and structures in Alaska and Michoacán to keep moving between “here” and “there.” Differences emerge over time between individuals along lines of gender and generation that condition mobility and everyday life in Alaska and Michoacán. Lines of gender, age, and position within the multigenerational family network thus help to explain some mobility patterns. Mobilities fit to the shape of a person’s life stage and key moments such as coming of age, marriage, birth of children, and retirement give form to these narratives so that a person’s position within the life course and within a family network can explain when and why they move. An important family event that is temporally marked and has implications in transnational mobility is the quinceañera, the celebration of a young woman’s fifteenth birthday marking her 124  transition to womanhood, for parents may decide to celebrate their daughters’ quinceañeras in Acuitzio. Young people seek and maintain relationships – friends and romantic partners – in both locations. Visiting parents, grandparents, and extended family often means travel between Anchorage and Acuitzio, and so do celebrations of weddings, funerals, or baptisms. The trip between Anchorage and Acuitzio is thus repeated over and over again across the generations. This repetitive aspect of multigenerational travel specifically is important because over time, those who have moved between Anchorage and Acuitzio build up a social space based on the experience of each location and of the mobilities between them. Grandparents, children, and grandchildren have all experienced life in both Anchorage and Acuitzio. Or to put it another way, the habitus of transnational life between Anchorage and Acuitzio is the “product of a chronologically ordered series of structuring determinations” which integrates similar experiences together (Bourdieu 2002:86). Over time, individuals in multigenerational family units orient themselves to the transnational social field as a whole, and both Anchorage and Acuitzio within it. As in Karen Olwig’s ethnography of three multigenerational family networks in the Caribbean, England, Canada and the USA, “places involved in the migratory moves will be viewed through the lens of social relations making up the migrants’ social field” (Olwig 2007:12). Family, kinship, and place do not exist in and of themselves; they become defined and attain meaning as individuals’ lives take social form and place within specific networks of social relations (Olwig 2007). Indeed, places like Acuitzio and Anchorage remain important sites of personal belonging only as long as migrants maintain close relations with people there (Olwig 2007:12). Within one multigenerational family, I show how over time, Acuitzio and Anchorage both become key sites of personal belonging, along with the common experience of travel between them.  125   I describe this in terms of traction. Over time, mobilities between Anchorage and Acuitzio have gained traction within these multigenerational family networks. In Chapter 3, I wrote about how points of friction inflect mobilities of Acuitzences who travel between Anchorage and Acuitzio. In this chapter, these points of friction lead to traction. “Provisional points of friction shift across uneven landscapes, historical moments, and the differential abilities of specific subjects to establish footholds that gain ground” (Moore 2005:281). That is, the unevenness of the terrain, the specificity of the historical moment, and the characteristics and abilities of the individual have allowed these family networks to establish footholds that gain ground. Traction “seeks to convey how the efficacy of situated practices articulates with contingent constellations of geography, history, and environment” (Moore 2005:282). Although Moore is not explicitly talking about globalization, his “traction” and Tsing’s “friction” do similar things: they highlight the importance of emplaced agency in activating and informing global universals and power relations and they each highlight the importance of interconnection across difference or translocality in producing culture and places. They also emphasize agency and the particularities of individuals. Both friction and traction are metaphors of movement, evoking the unevenness of physical movement. Traction, in this regard, refers to the resilience of certain patterns of mobility over time. In the pages that follow, the initial trajectories of individual Bravo family members, and other Acuitzences, gained traction over time, engaging with changing geography, economies, and citizenship regimes to eventually produce the more resilient mobility patterns or “corridors” between Acuitzio and Anchorage. Over time and across generations, Bravo family members orient themselves more to the network as a whole, with both Acuitzio and Anchorage as essential reference points for a sense of belonging.   126          Figure 7: The Bravo Family, 2012. Figure by Author. Black indicates that the individual has lived in Alaska.      127  The Bravo Family: Spatializing Kinship I focus on the Bravo family network, an extended multigenerational family which has moved between Acuitzio and Anchorage since the early 1960s and whose relations are spatialized across the continent. Members of the Bravo family orient themselves to be able to take advantage of opportunities on both sides of the border, moving between Alaska and Acuitzio, re-establishing a primary residence in Acuitzio, or expanding northwards once again are all possibilities that are taken up in alignment with shifting life circumstances. It is important to note that the Bravo family is only one such network. Other families I worked with, such as the Cárdenas family and the Madero family, share similar patterns of mobility and the spatialization of kin relations. These three family networks are also interconnected through compadrazgo relationships. All of these families share a similar pattern of spatial expansion, with a grandfather who went to Alaska first, to arreglar63 US Permanent Residency64 papers for his children before returning to Mexico to retire as the second generation moved to Alaska to live and work. When the second generation sons and daughters married and had children, they sought US Citizenship so that they could bring their spouses and children with them to Alaska. At this time, the grandparents remain retired in Mexico, while their children and grandchildren live in Anchorage. Over time, even as primary residence shifts, multigenerational family networks orient themselves more to the transnational social field as a whole, with both Anchorage and Acuitzio as essential points of reference for belonging and identity.                                                  63 People use the verb arreglar (to fix, or to arrange) as shorthand for the application for United States Permanent Residency. For example, someone might say, mi papa me arregló (my father arranged [the paperwork] for me) or like Luis said, voy a tratar de arreglarles. 64 As I described in Chapter 3, my participants usually used the term residencia or residency to refer to US Permanent Residency status, or having a Green Card.  128  It is kinship, constellations of relations created through alliance and descent, that provides access to travel and work and creates the traction that keeps people moving between Mexico and Alaska. People move as a member of families and communities, as a network of kin, compadres, and paisanos expanding and contracting as members of the network move. The sustained, repetitive, multigenerational travel to and fro, with implications for family and community reproduction in both Mexico and Alaska makes these mobilities spatially productive, and which leads to the production of a social space that extends between Michoacán to Alaska. To borrow an observation made by Lynn Stephen in her work with an extended family from San Agustín:  “Within this one extended family there is shared knowledge and experience about these places, even if everyone has not been to every place. Most important, the ability to construct space, time, and social relations in more than one place simultaneously is a part of the daily framing of life in this extended family as well as in others. And it has been for quite some time” (Stephen 2007:5).  Likewise, the ability to work in Alaska is somewhat passed down through the generations. I mean this in a few different ways. The US immigration system prioritizes family reunification along increasingly strict definitions of “family” but family members may have had their papers arranged by fathers who worked in Alaska before them. Having family members and contacts in Alaska also gives migrant-immigrants a place to start out in Alaska, and often people arrive with an offer to work with a family member. Younger generations are socialized to live in both locations, acquiring the necessary language and social skills to move between social contexts and nation states. Members of the Bravo family network have been able to travel back and forth at first with no legal status in the US, then with residency, and now with both US and Mexican citizenship over three generations. This relative privilege creates a traction that allows them to travel faster, along more direct corridors, and more often. Not that they do not experience friction – certainly they do feel the effect of distance between Alaska and Mexico in 129  their everyday lives. However, the material conditions of the trip differ in part because of who is traveling, and their gender, age and status within their families and communities, as well as US immigration status.  While living in Anchorage, I asked about relationships between Acuitzences – family, compadres, friends, or just paisanos or conocidos. Compadres are the parents and godparents of a child. This is an important relationship between people from Acuitzio, and it usually reinforces a prior kin or friendship relationship. A paisano is someone who is from the same place, although this could mean from the same neighbourhood, town, region, state, or even another mexicano. A conocido is an acquaintance. This was formalized in a participant network form that I used with a subset of participants to get a sense of how many Acuitzences were living in Alaska, and how they described their relationships to each other. In Anchorage, people draw on Acuitzio-Alaska centred social relationships for practical reasons like finding work, a place to live, or childcare. Acuitzences who I asked, “Tell me how you ended up in Alaska” mentioned a family member, friend, or conocido who they were in contact with, and who “invited” them to come to Alaska in the first place. The context of an “invitation” varies, however, from a suggestion like vamos pa’ Alaska, compa’!65 to the implication that they will be totally cared for while there, such as when close family members decide to move to Alaska together. In fact, it is usually described as such by my research contacts. When someone describes how and why they are in Alaska, it is because of a family member. Individual interviewees who had a long family history of migration to Alaska often said with pride that their father or grandfather was either “the first” or “one of the first” people from Acuitzio to go to Alaska. Just as family relationships                                                 65 Let’s go to Alaska, compadre! 130  are spatially extended, so too are long-standing social and class divides. Divisions between individuals and families that originated in Acuitzio persist in Anchorage.  Earlier generations produce corridors for later generations to move along and the repeated mobilities of Bravo family members has resulted in a spatializing of kin relations, so that families and networks of kin and compadres are extended across international borders. I have chosen to use the term corridor here, because it implies a relatively fixed trajectory, along which mobility is smoother. The first generation of Acuitzences in Alaska built corridors for automobiles and oil when they constructed highways and pipelines, and they also produced corridors for family members to move along by securing documentation, social capital, and money to facilitate ongoing travel to Alaska. I prefer the term “corridor” because the mobilities of multigenerational families have been more or less confined to Alaska and Acuitzio. Most members of these multigenerational families have not lived elsewhere in the United States; they have only lived and worked in either Acuitzio or Anchorage.  Spatializing kin this way, with older generations returning to the pueblo to care for property and family, while others work to earn money in Alaska and prepare new generations to operate in social contexts at either end of the continent, allows the family network as a whole to maximize options on both sides of the border. This is the best of both worlds, in spite of the melancholy for Mexico that living in Alaska can produce, often with dreams of “going home” that might never be realized (Wiest 2009). This is also a form of spatial flexibility, which can be seen as an “effect of articulations between regimes of family, state, and capital,” (Ong 1999:3). The Bravo family network interacts with larger structural forces both in North America and globally which shape and condition abilities or necessities to expand northwards. For example, an ongoing lack of labour 131  opportunities in rural Mexico has given young men few options to get ahead for decades now. The unequal exchange rate from Mexican pesos to US dollars makes working in the United States for dollars look attractive. This is especially so considering the unequal purchasing power of pesos vis-à-vis dollars, where food, cellphones, and consumer goods command relatively high prices in Mexico compared to the United States. Peso devaluations in the 1980s and 1990s and the incorporation of Mexico into the neoliberal global economy again sent people north when prices on products like livestock and corn dropped as the market opened up. Fears for personal safety in Michoacán or in Mexico as a whole also send people northwards.66 The mobility of individuals in family networks is also profoundly shaped by the changing citizenship and immigration regime in the United States. To accommodate these conditions, the Bravo family network is able to expand to Alaska for work, pay in US dollars, and good educational opportunities are available. However, they maintain a connection to Acuitzio, and therefore maintain the opportunity to return to Mexico for summer vacations, special occasions, or even relocation of primary residence for retirement or to raise a family.  Mobility is never a given; it is a possibility that is sometimes taken up in alignment with particular life circumstances at particular historical moments. Indeed, Massey (1994) writes about the power-geometry of time-space compression where different social groups are placed in very distinct ways in relation to flows and interconnections. In other words, it is not just about who moves and who doesn’t: mobility is also about power in relation to the flows and movement (Massey 1994:149). Depending on US and Mexican Citizenship or US Green Card status, class, age, gender, and position within a multigenerational migrant family, an individual migrant may                                                 66 Fears about security are commonly expressed in conversations in Alaska, with some people speculating on the level of danger from drug cartels in Acuitzio, and others assuring them that the town is as peaceful as it ever was. 132  be more or less “in charge” of their mobility (Massey 1994:149). Over time, as members of these family networks gain dual US-Mexico citizenship and social and economic capital in Anchorage and Acuitzio, they are increasingly able to be flexible, and explore opportunities in either location for social and economic mobility. As such, they are able to spatialize family relations to economic and social advantage, more like Ong’s “Flexible Citizens” (1999) or Olwig’s family networks (2007) than transnational Mexican families who experience the US/Mexico border as a barrier to family reunification (Boehm 2008). In the case of the Bravo family, the first generation of men produced corridors for future generations as they built corridors toward Alaska. The second generation brought their families with them and prioritized not only work, but also being together. The third generation has been socialized to live between Alaska and Mexico and orient themselves to the transnational space as a whole. Throughout, the US state structures the ways transnational Mexicans, of all ages, navigate the shifting terrain of state power, building lives and kin relations in the US-Mexico transnation” (Boehm 2008:778).  The First Generation Luis Bravo Sr. talks with a unique rhythm. He is a man of few words but as he speaks his voice dramatically changes cadence and volume to emphasize what he is saying. I met with him for recorded interviews over two afternoons in his living room in Acuitzio, and we visited informally at family events, in the plaza, or while he was driving his shiny pickup truck around town. At his home, he sat in a burgundy armchair, the walls around him adorned with photographs of family members, Alaska souvenirs new and old, and tapestries, one depicting a dogsled team running across the snow. His wife sat on the couch across from them, and the three of us talked as their pet parrot chattered in the other room. The doors to their living room opened 133  to a patio, and sounds of the plaza and the rumblings of an afternoon thunderstorm drifted in as we talked. “How did you end up working in Alaska?” I asked. Some friends he knew in California, one from Acuitzio, invited him to Alaska and he went there to work there in 1960. He had been earning $2.50/hour in California, but in Anchorage they told him you could earn $4.50/hour washing dishes in a restaurant. The first time he went, he flew to Anchorage on an airplane. There was no job waiting for him, but he found one easily once he got there. He started out by washing dishes in a restaurant and at night he and a group of other paisanos worked as janitors, cleaning banks and offices in downtown Anchorage. They didn’t go to bed until 4 or 5 in the morning and then started working again at 5 in the afternoon. After the Good Friday earthquake in 196467 there was a lot of work in construction, to fix train tracks, re-build the port, and re-build the city, which had been shaken apart. This work paid even better, about $8 per hour. Luis joined a union and worked in construction for the rest of his time in Alaska. In fact, he still collects a substantial pension cheque from the union.68  Men like Luis Sr. are part of the first cohort of Acuitzences who lived and worked in Alaska. I met and interviewed five men of this cohort69 and I asked other interlocutors in both Acuitzio and Alaska for stories they heard about los primeros, the first ones to go to Alaska. All of the men in this cohort are similar in age and similarity of experiences and type of work in Alaska. As well, each of these five men worked in Alaska before 1980. By 1980, the Alaska                                                 67 The 1964 earthquake was the most powerful ever recorded in North American history and was followed by tsunamis that wreaked additional destruction along the West Coast of North America.  68 When I visited his home in 2011, he showed me the statement of all of the pension payments he received.  69 I was unable to reach some men who were part of this group, and there were other Acuitzences who traveled between Acuitzio and Alaska at this time, but they have since passed away.  134  pipeline had been built, ANCSA70 had been signed, and Alaska as we know it today had been formed. Mexico was becoming more integrated into the North American economy and levels of migration to the United States remained high. As well, all of these men traveled without wives, girlfriends or children, either because they had not married yet or because their wives remained in Acuitzio. Producing Alaska Luis Sr. worked in construction in the summer and as a janitor in the winter, and even worked on the Alaska pipeline for a time. In fact, he has a book about the construction of the Alaska pipeline that he purchased in Anchorage and brought back to Acuitzio to have in his home (Allen 1975). The Trans-Alaska pipeline was built to transport oil from the remote North Slope of Alaska to the ice-free port of Valdez. Construction began in 1974 and involved not only building the pipeline, but also building roads and camps to the oil fields and the work camps along the pipeline route (Willis 2010:124). The pipeline was built to accommodate unique factors of the Alaska terrain: almost half of the nearly 1300 kilometre long pipeline was built above ground to avoid thawing the permafrost and it was constructed in a zigzag pattern to absorb shock from thermal expansion or seismic activity. It was also constructed with animal crossings. The terminal at Valdez, where Luis Bravo Sr. worked, was built to withstand even major earthquakes (Willis 2010:124).  Luis Sr. also worked on highways and bridges around the state, living in camps and working outdoors everyday. He described working at one camp along the Richardson Highway:                                                  70 Discovery of oil and rising oil prices prompted intense corporate pressure to clarify land claims and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed in 1971 to settle and extinguish all outstanding land claims of Alaska Natives. Cash payments of $980 million, and 40 million acres of land were transferred to 12 Alaska Native Regional Corporations and many village corporations. A 13th corporation was